Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease affecting bone tissue at different length-scales. Higher fracture risk in diabetic patients is difficult to detect with common clinical fracture risk assessment due to normal or high bone mineral density in diabetic patients. The observed higher fracture risk despite normal to high areal bone mineral density in diabetic patients points towards impaired bone material quality. Here, we analyze tibial bone from individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus using a multiscale-approach, which includes clinical and laboratory-based bone quality measures. Tibial cortical bone tissue from individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and age-matched healthy controls (n = 15 each) was analyzed with in situ impact indentation, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), high resolution peripheral microcomputed tomography (HR-pQCT), micro-computed tomography (microCT), cyclic indentation, quantitative backscattered electron microscopy (qBEI), vibrational spectroscopy (Raman), nanoindentation, and fluorescence spectroscopy. With this approach, a high cortical porosity subgroup of individuals with T2DM was discriminated from two study groups: individuals with T2DM and individuals without T2DM, while both groups were associated with similar cortical porosity quantified by means of microCT. The high porosity T2DM group, but not the T2DM group, showed compromised bone quality expressed by altered cyclic indentation properties (transversal direction) in combination with a higher carbonate-to-amide I ratio in endocortical bone. In addition, in the T2DM group with high cortical porosity group, greater cortical pore diameter was identified with HR-pQCT and lower tissue mineral density using microCT, both compared to T2DM group. Micromechanical analyses of cross-sectioned osteons (longitudinal direction) with cyclic indentation, qBEI, and nanoindentation showed no differences between the three groups. High tibial cortical porosity in T2DM can be linked to locally altered bone material composition. As the tibia is an accessible skeletal site for fracture risk assessment in the clinics (CT, indentation), our findings may contribute to further understanding the site-specific structural and compositional factors forming the basis of bone quality in diabetes mellitus. Refined diagnostic strategies are needed for a comprehensive fracture risk assessment in diabetic bone disease.
Keywords: Advanced glycation end-products; Cortical bone; Diabetic bone disease; Impact indentation; Tibia.
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