Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 215-223

First online:

Bone Quality and Bone Strength in BXH Recombinant Inbred Mice

  • A. H. M. NgAffiliated withSamuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mt. Sinai Hospital
  • , S. X. WangAffiliated withSamuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mt. Sinai Hospital
  • , C. H. TurnerAffiliated withOrthopaedic Research, Indiana University, Purdue University Indianapolis
  • , W. G. BeamerAffiliated withThe Jackson Laboratory
  • , M. D. GrynpasAffiliated withSamuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mt. Sinai Hospital Email author 

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The relationship between bone quality and strength was studied in 11 BXH recombinant inbred (RI) strains of mice. The bone quality parameters studied were bone mineralization, microhardness, architecture, and connectivity. Previous studies have demonstrated considerable variability in bone density, biomechanical properties, and microstructure among inbred strains of mice. In particular, C3H/HeJ (C3H) mice exhibit thicker femoral and vertebral cortices and fewer trabeculae in the vertebral body compared with C57BL/6J (B6) mice, despite having similar vertebral bone strength. A set of RI mouse strains has been generated from B6 and C3H (denoted BXH) in an attempt to isolate genetic regulation of numerous traits, including bone. The objective of this study was to investigate relationships among bone quality and bone strength in femurs and vertebrae among BXH RI mice. The study involved 11 BXH RI strains of female mice (n = 5−7) as well as the B6 and C3H progenitor strains. Parameters contributing to bone quality were evaluated, including BMD, bone mineralization, microhardness, architecture, and connectivity. There was a strong correlation between femoral and vertebral BMD in all strains (P < 0.001) except in BXH-9 and -10 (P < 0.001). Within the vertebrae, cortical bone was more mineralized than trabecular bone, and a strong correlation existed between the two (P < 0.001). However, cortical microhardness did not differ from trabecular microhardness. Cortical bone was more mineralized in the femur than in the vertebrae and significantly harder, by 30%. There was a wide range in trabecular connectivity, architecture, and femur geometry among BXH RI strains. BMD explained 43% of vertebral bone strength but only 11% of femoral bone strength. Trabecular connectivity explained an additional 8% of vertebral strength, while mineralization and femur geometry explained 7% and 50% of femoral strength, respectively. Different bone quality parameters had varying influences on bone mechanical properties, depending on bone site. BMD may play a larger role in explaining bone strength in the vertebrae than in the femur. Moreover, cortical bone in the femur is harder than in vertebrae. The control of cortical bone material properties may be site-dependent.


Bone quality Bone strength Bone mineral density Mineralization Architecture