The ability of the skeleton to adapt to mechanical stimuli diminishes with age in diaphyseal cortical bone, making bone formation difficult for adults. However, the effect of aging on adaptation in cancellous bone, tissue which is preferentially lost with age, is not well characterized. To develop a model for early post-menopausal women and determine the effect of aging on cancellous bone adaptation in the adult mouse skeleton, in vivo tibial compression was applied to adult (26 week old) osteopenic female mice using loading parameters, peak applied load and peak diaphyseal strain magnitude, that were previously found to be osteogenic in young, growing (10 week old) mice. A Load-Matched group received the same peak applied loads (corresponding to +2100 με at the medial diaphysis of the tibia) and a Strain-Matched group received the same peak diaphyseal strains (+1200 με, requiring half the load) as the young mice. The effects of mechanical loading on bone mass and architecture in adult mice were assessed using micro-computed tomography and in vivo structural stiffness measures. Adaptation occurred only in the Load-Matched group in both the metaphyseal and diaphyseal compartments. Cancellous bone mass increased 54% through trabecular thickening, and cortical area increased 41% through medullary contraction and periosteal expansion. Adult mice were able to respond to an anabolic stimulus and recover bone mass to levels seen in growing mice; however, the adaptive response was reduced relative to that in 10 week old female mice for the same applied load. Using this osteogenic loading protocol, other factors affecting pathological bone loss can be addressed using an adult osteopenic mouse model.
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