Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) is caused by mutations in the collagen genes and results in skeletal fragility. Changes in bone porosity at the tissue level indicate changes in bone metabolism and alter bone mechanical integrity. We investigated the cortical bone tissue porosity of a mouse model of the disease, oim, in comparison to a wild type (WT-C57BL/6), and examined the influence of canal architecture on bone mechanical performance.
High-resolution 3D representations of the posterior tibial and the lateral humeral mid-diaphysis of the bones were acquired for both mouse groups using synchrotron radiation-based computed tomography at a nominal resolution of 700 nm. Volumetric morphometric indices were determined for cortical bone, canal network and osteocyte lacunae. The influence of canal porosity architecture on bone mechanics was investigated using microarchitectural finite element (μFE) models of the cortical bone. Bright-field microscopy of stained sections was used to determine if canals were vascular.
Although total cortical porosity was comparable between oim and WT bone, oim bone had more numerous and more branched canals (p < 0.001), and more osteocyte lacunae per unit volume compared to WT (p < 0.001). Lacunae in oim were more spherical in shape compared to the ellipsoidal WT lacunae (p < 0.001). Histology revealed blood vessels in all WT and oim canals. μFE models of cortical bone revealed that small and branched canals, typical of oim bone, increase the risk of bone failure. These results portray a state of compromised bone quality in oim bone at the tissue level, which contributes to its deficient mechanical properties.