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Bone. 2009 May;44(5):930-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2008.12.026. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

The mouse fibula as a suitable bone for the study of functional adaptation to mechanical loading.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, London, UK.


Bones' functionally adaptive responses to mechanical loading can usefully be studied in the tibia by the application of loads between the knee and ankle in normal and genetically modified mice. Such loading also deforms the fibula. Our present study was designed to ascertain whether the fibula adapts to loading in a similar way to the tibia and could thus provide an additional bone in which to study functional adaptation. The right tibiae/fibulae in C57BL/6 mice were subjected to a single period of axial loading (40 cycles at 10 Hz with 10-second intervals between each cycle; approximately 7 min/day, 3 alternate days/week, 2 weeks). The left tibiae/fibulae were used as non-loaded, internal controls. Both left and right fibulae and tibiae were analyzed by micro-computed tomography at the levels of the mid-shaft of the fibula and 25% from its proximal and distal ends. We also investigated the effects of intermittent parathyroid hormone (iPTH) on the (re)modelling response to 2-weeks of loading and the effect of 2-consecutive days of loading on osteocytes' sclerostin expression. These in vivo experiments confirmed that the fibula showed similar loading-related (re)modelling responses to those previously documented in the tibia and similar synergistic increases in osteogenesis between loading and iPTH. The numbers of sclerostin-positive osteocytes at the proximal and middle fibulae were markedly decreased by loading. Collectively, these data suggest that the mouse fibula, as well as the tibia and ulna, is a useful bone in which to assess bone cells' early responses to mechanical loading and the adaptive (re)modelling that this engenders.

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