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J Biomech. 2005 Mar;38(3):467-75.

A comparison of mechanical properties derived from multiple skeletal sites in mice.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, USA.


Laboratory mice provide a versatile experimental model for studies of skeletal biomechanics. In order to determine the strength of the mouse skeleton, mechanical testing has been performed on a variety of bones using several procedures. Because of differences in testing methods, the data from previous studies are not comparable. The purpose of this study was to determine which long bone provides the values closest to the published material properties of bone, while also providing reliable and reproducible results. To do this, the femur, humerus, third metatarsal, radius, and tibia of both the low bone mass C57BL/6H (B6) and high bone mass C3H/HeJ (C3H) mice were mechanically tested under three-point bending. The biomechanical tests showed significant differences between the bones and between mouse strains for the five bones tested (p < 0.05). Computational models of the femur, metatarsal, and radius were developed to visualize the types of measurement error inherent in the three-point bending tests. The models demonstrated that measurement error arose from local deformation at the loading point, shear deformation and ring-type deformation of the cylindrical cross-section. Increasing the aspect ratio (bone length/width) improved the measurement of Young's modulus of the bone for both mouse strains (p < 0.01). Bones with the highest aspect ratio and largest cortical thickness to radius ratio were better for bending tests since less measurement error was observed in the computational models. Of the bones tested, the radius was preferred for mechanical testing because of its high aspect ratio, minimal measurement error, and low variability.

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