Trabecular bone is a highly dynamic tissue due to bone remodeling, mineralization and demineralization. The mineral content and its spatial heterogeneity are main contributors to bone quality. Using time-lapsed in vivo micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), it is now possible to resolve in three dimensions where bone gets resorbed and deposited over several weeks. In addition, the gray values in the micro-CT images contain quantitative information about the local tissue mineral density (TMD). The aim of this study was to measure how TMD increases with time after new bone formation and how this mineralization kinetics is influenced by mechanical stimulation. Our analysis of changes in TMD was based on an already reported experiment on 15-week-old female mice (C57BL/6), where in one group the sixth caudal vertebra was mechanically loaded with 8N, while in the control group no loading was applied. Comparison of two consecutive images allows the categorization of bone into newly formed, resorbed, and quiescent bone for different time points. Gray values of bone in these categories were compared layer-wise to minimize the effects of beam hardening artifacts. Quiescent bone in the control group was found to mineralize with a rate of 8 ± 1 mgHA/cm(3) per week, which is about half as fast as observed for newly formed bone. Mechanical loading increased the rate of mineral incorporation by 63% in quiescent bone. The week before bone resorption, demineralization could be observed with a drop of TMD by 36 ± 4 mgHA/cm(3) in the control and 34 ± 3 mgHA/cm(3) in the loaded group. In conclusion, this study shows how time-lapsed in vivo micro-CT can be used to assess changes in TMD of bone with high spatial and temporal resolution. This will allow a quantification of how bone diseases and pharmaceutical interventions influence not only microarchitecture of trabecular bone, but also its material quality.
Keywords: Bone formation; Bone resorption; Mechanical loading; Mineralization kinetics; Time-lapsed micro-CT.
Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Inc.