Bone adaptation to mechanical loading in mice is affected by circadian rhythms

Bone. 2022 Jan;154:116218. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2021.116218. Epub 2021 Sep 25.


Physical forces are critical for successful function of many organs including bone. Interestingly, the timing of exercise during the day alters physiology and gene expression in many organs due to circadian rhythms. Circadian clocks in tissues, such as bone, express circadian clock genes that target tissue-specific genes, resulting in tissue-specific rhythmic gene expression (clock-controlled genes). We hypothesized that the adaptive response of bone to mechanical loading is regulated by circadian rhythms. First, mice were sham loaded and sacrificed 8 h later, which amounted to tissues being collected at zeitgeber time (ZT)2, 6, 10, 14, 18, and 22. Cortical bone of the tibiae collected from these mice displayed diurnal expression of core clock genes and key osteocyte and osteoblast-related genes, such as the Wnt-signaling inhibitors Sost and Dkk1, indicating these are clock-controlled genes. Serum bone turnover markers did not display rhythmicity. Second, mice underwent a single bout of in vivo loading at either ZT2 or ZT14 and were sacrificed 1, 8, or 24 h after loading. Loading at ZT2 resulted in Sost upregulation, while loading at ZT14 led to Sost and Dkk1 downregulation. Third, mice underwent daily in vivo tibial loading over 2 weeks administered either in the morning, (ZT2, resting phase) or evening (ZT14, active phase). In vivo microCT was performed at days 0, 5, 10, and 15 and conventional histomorphometry was performed at day 15. All outcome measures indicated a robust response to loading, but only microCT-based time-lapse morphometry showed that loading at ZT14 resulted in a greater endocortical bone formation response compared to mice loaded at ZT2. The decreased Sost and Dkk1 expression coincident with the modest, but significant time-of-day specific increase in adaptive bone formation, suggests that circadian clocks influence bone mechanoresponse.

Keywords: Bone; Bone adaptation; Chronobiology; Mechanical loading; Mechanobiology; Sclerostin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones
  • Circadian Clocks* / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm* / physiology
  • Cortical Bone
  • Mice
  • Osteocytes
  • Osteogenesis / physiology