Asymmetric adaptive modeling of central tarsal bones in racing greyhounds

Bone. 2000 Aug;27(2):257-63. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(00)00313-6.


Fatigue fracture of the cuboidal bones of the foot, especially the navicular tarsal bone, is common in athletes and dancers. The racing greyhound is a naturally occurring animal model of this injury because both microcracking and complete fracture occur in the right central (navicular) tarsal bone (CTB). The right limb is on the outside when racing in a counter-clockwise direction on circular tracks, and is subjected to asymmetric cyclic compressive loading. We wished to study in more detail adaptive modeling in the right CTB in racing greyhounds. We hypothesized that cyclic asymmetric loading of a cuboidal bone induced by racing on a circular track would induce site-specific bone adaptation. We also hypothesized that such an adaptive response would be attenuated in greyhounds that were retired from racing and no longer subjected to cyclic asymmetric loading. Central tarsal bones from racing greyhounds (racing group, n = 6) and retired greyhounds being used for breeding (nonracing group, n = 4) were examined using quantitative computed tomography (CT). Bone mineral density (BMD) was determined in a 3-mm diameter region-of-interest (ROI) in six contiguous 1-mm-thick sagittal CT slices of each CTB. Bones were subsequently examined histomorphometrically and percentage bone area (B.Ar./T.Ar., %) was determined in 10 ROI from dorsal to plantar in a transverse plane, mid-way between the proximal and distal articular surfaces. The BMD of the right CTB was greater than the left in all greyhounds (p < 0. 001). In comparing ipsilateral limbs between groups, BMD of the racing group was greater than the nonracing group for each side (p < 0.005). In sagittal plane histologic sections, bone in the dorsal region of the right CTB had undergone adaptive modeling, through thickening and compaction of trabeculae. B.Ar./T.Ar., % in the right CTB of the racing group was greater than in the contralateral CTB (p < 0.001), and the ipsilateral CTB of the nonracing group (p < 0.001). In the nonracing group, B.Ar./T.Ar., % in the right CTB was not significantly different from left CTB (p > 0.8; power = 80% at Delta = 48%). It was concluded that greyhounds racing on circular tracks develop site-specific bone adaptation with compaction of trabecular bone and increase in BMD in the right CTB in particular, the most common site for fatigue fracture. Our data also suggested that partial reversal of this adaptive process occurred in retired, nonracing greyhounds, after cessation of asymmetric cyclic loading at racing speed. Racing greyhounds provide a model in which to study fatigue fracture and adaptation of cuboidal foot bones subjected to cyclic loading.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dogs*
  • Fractures, Stress / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Stress / pathology
  • Fractures, Stress / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Running
  • Tarsus, Animal / injuries*
  • Tarsus, Animal / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology