The senescence accelerated mouse, strain P6 (SAMP6) has been described as a model of senile osteoporosis. Recent results from whole-bone bending tests indicate that, despite having increased moments of inertia, SAMP6 long bones are weak and brittle compared to SAMR1 controls. In the current study we determined material properties of cortical bone from SAMP6 and SAMR1 femora and tibiae by two methods—nanoindentation and whole-bone bending tests combined with simple beam theory. We hypothesized that: (1) SAMP6 mice have reduced cortical bone material properties compared to SAMR1 controls; and (2) modulus estimated from whole-bone bending tests correlates well with modulus determined by nanoindentation. Results from nanoindentation indicated that modulus and hardness are approximately 10% higher in SAMP6 mice compared to SAMR1 controls (p<0.001), a finding consistent with slightly higher mineralization in SAMP6 bones. Despite their superior elastic and hardness properties, the bending failure properties of SAMP6 bones were markedly inferior—ultimate stress and toughness were reduced by 40% and 60%, respectively (p<0.001). Comparisons between the two testing methods for determining modulus showed poor agreement. Modulus estimated from whole-bone bending tests was not correlated with modulus determined by nanoindentation (p=0.054; r2=0.03) and the absolute values differed by a factor of five between the two methods (bending [wet], 6 GPa; nanoindentation [dry], 31 GPa). Moreover, relative differences between groups were inconsistent between the two methods. We conclude: (1) cortical bone from the SAMP6 mouse has increased modulus and hardness but poor material strength and toughness, which underscores the relevance of the SAMP6 mouse for studies of skeletal fragility, and (2) values of elastic modulus of bone tissue estimated using simple beam theory and bending tests of mouse femora and tibiae are inaccurate and should be interpreted with caution.
Keywords: Cortical bone; Nanoindentation; Elastic modulus; Murine model; Osteoporosis