Despite advances in understanding the molecular basis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, the mechanisms by which type I collagen mutations compromise whole bone function are not well understood. Previously, we have shown that a heterozygous type I collagen mutation is associated with increased brittleness of long bones from Mov13 transgenic mice, a model of the mild form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta. In the current study, we investigated tissue-level damage processes by testing the hypothesis that the fatigue properties of Mov13 tissue were significantly compromised relative to littermate controls. We also quantified tissue structure and mineral content to explain variations in the fatigue behavior. Micro-beam specimens were machined from the anterior and posterior quadrants of Mov13 and control femurs and subjected to cyclic bending at one of four stress levels. Mov13 tissue exhibited a 22–25% reduction in tissue bending strength and a similar reductions in fatigue life and the stress level at which damage was apparent. These results provided tissue-level evidence that damage accumulation mechanisms were significantly compromised in Mov13 cortical tissue. Given that significant alterations in tissue structure were observed in Mov13 femurs, the results of this study support the idea that Mov13 femurs were brittle because alterations in tissue structure associated with the mutation interfered with normal damage processes. These results provide new insight into the pathogenesis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta and are consistent with bone behaving as a damaging composite material, where damage accumulation is central to bone fracture.
Keywords: Damage; Cortical bone; Osteogenesis imperfecta; Transgenic model; Skeletal fragility