The influence of follistatin on mechanical properties of bone tissue in growing mice with overexpression of follistatin

J Bone Miner Metab. 2012 Jul;30(4):426-33. doi: 10.1007/s00774-011-0347-8. Epub 2012 Feb 7.


Mechanical competence of bones is mainly associated with tissue quality that depends on proper bone metabolism processes. An imbalance in the regulation of bone metabolism leads to pathological changes in bone tissue leading to susceptibility to bone fractures and bone deterioration processes. Bone metabolism is regulated to a large extent by the members of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, i.e., activins and bone morphogenetic proteins. However, their function is regulated by a single-chain protein called follistatin (FS). The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that overexpression of FS in growing mice results in impairments in bone morphology and mechanical properties. Moreover, we wanted to investigate how geometrical, structural and material properties of bone tissue change with age. The experiment was performed on growing C57BL/6 TgNK14-mFst/6J mice, overexpressing FS (F mice) versus C57BL/6J mice used as controls (C mice). To establish how overexpression of FS influences bone tissue quality, we studied mice femurs to determine geometrical, structural and material properties of the skeleton. To determine mechanical resistance of bone tissue, femurs were loaded to failure in a three-point bending test. Obtained results indicated that overexpression of FS negatively influences bone metabolism. It was found that mutation results with a significant decrease of all measured biomechanical strength variables in F mice in comparison to C mice. Overexpression of FS leads to decreased quality of skeleton, increasing susceptibility to bone fractures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Development*
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Female
  • Femur / chemistry
  • Femur / growth & development
  • Femur / metabolism
  • Follistatin / biosynthesis*
  • Follistatin / genetics
  • Fractures, Bone / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mechanical Phenomena
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Protein Isoforms / biosynthesis
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Up-Regulation*
  • Weight Gain


  • Follistatin
  • Protein Isoforms