Noninvasive methods to apply controlled, cyclic loads to the living skeleton are used as anabolic procedures to stimulate new bone formation in adults and enhance bone mass accrual in growing animals. These methods are also invaluable for understanding bone signaling pathways. Our focus here is on a particular loading model: in vivo axial compression of the mouse tibia. An advantage of loading the tibia is that changes are present in both the cancellous envelope of the proximal tibia and the cortical bone of the tibial diaphysis. To load the tibia of the mouse axially in vivo, a cyclic compressive load is applied up to five times a week to a single tibia per mouse for a duration lasting from 1 day to 6 weeks. With the contralateral limb as an internal control, the anabolic response of the skeleton to mechanical stimuli can be studied in a pairwise experimental design. Here, we describe the key parameters that must be considered before beginning an in vivo mouse tibial loading experiment, including methods for in vivo strain gauging of the tibial midshaft, and then we describe general methods for loading the mouse tibia for an experiment lasting multiple days.
Bone Mechanical loading Tibia Mouse Anabolic bone formation
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We would like to acknowledge our funding sources: NIH R01-AG028664 (MCHM), R01-AR53237 (AGR) and I01-BX001478 (AGR), and NSF GRFP (KMM). We would also like to thank the following individuals who have been involved in the development of these methods: Dr. J. Christopher Fritton, Dr. Maureen E. Lynch, and Dr. Russell P. Main.
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