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Bone. 2006 Jul;39(1):106-16. Epub 2006 Mar 9.

The mechanical phenotype of biglycan-deficient mice is bone- and gender-specific.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2099, and Henry Ford Hospital, Bone and Joint Center, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Biglycan (bgn) is a small leucine-rich proteoglycan (SLRP) enriched in the extracellular matrix of skeletal tissues. While bgn is known to be involved in the growth and differentiation of osteoblast precursor cells and regulation of collagen fibril formation, it is unclear how these functions impact bone's geometric and mechanical properties, properties which are integral to the structural function of bone. Because the genetic control of bone structure and function is both local- and gender-specific and because there is evidence of gender-specific effects associated with genetic deficiencies, it was hypothesized that the engineered deletion of the gene encoding bgn would result in a cortical bone mechanical phenotype that was bone- and gender-specific. In 11-week-old C57BL6/129 mice, the cortical bone in the mid-diaphyses of the femora and tibiae of both genders was examined. Phenotypic changes in bgn-deficient mice relative to wild type controls were assayed by four-point bending tests to determine mechanical properties at the whole bone (structural) and tissue levels, as well as analyses of bone geometry and bone formation using histomorphometry. Of the bones examined, bgn deficiency most strongly affected the male tibiae, where enhanced cross-sectional geometric properties and bone mineral density were accompanied by decreased tissue-level yield strength and pre-yield structural deformation and energy dissipation. Because pre-yield properties alone were impacted, this implies that the gene deletion causes important alterations in mineral and/or the matrix/mineral ultrastructure and suggests a new understanding of the functional role of bgn in regulating bone mineralization in vivo.

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