The objective of this study was to examine changes in the long bones of male C57BL/6J mice with growth and aging, and to consider the applicability of this animal for use in studying Type II osteoporosis. Male C57BL/6J mice were aged in our colony between 4 and 104 weeks (n = 9–15/group). The right femur and humeri were measured for length and subjected to mechanical testing (3-point flexure) and compositional analysis. The left femurs were embedded and thick slices at the mid-diaphysis were assessed for morphology, formation indices, and bone structure. In young mice, rapid growth was marked by substantial increases in bone size, mineral mass, and mechanical properties. Maturity occurred between 12 and 42 weeks of age with the maintenance of bone mass and mechanical properties. From peak levels, mice aged for 104 weeks experienced decreased whole femur mass (12.1 and 18.6% for dry and ash mass, respectively), percentage mineralization (7.4%), diminished whole bone stiffness (29.2%), energy to fracture (51.8%), and decreased cortical thickness (20.1%). Indices of surface-based formation decreased rapidly from the onset of the study. However, the periosteal perimeter and, consequently, the cross-sectional moments of inertia continued to increase through 104 weeks, thus maintaining structural properties. This compensated for cortical thinning and increased brittleness due to decreased mineralization and stiffness. The shape of the mid-diaphysis became increasingly less elliptical in aged mice, and endocortical resorption and evidence of subsequent formation were present in 20–50% of femurs aged ≥78 weeks. This, combined with the appearance of excessive endocortical resorption after 52 weeks, indicated a shift in normal mechanisms regulating bone shape and location, and was suggestive of remodeling. The pattern of bone loss at the femoral mid-diaphysis in this study is markedly similar to that seen in cortical bone in the human femoral neck in Type II osteoporosis. This study has thus demonstrated that the male C57BL/6J mouse is a novel and appropriate model for use in studying endogenous, aging-related osteopenia and may be a useful model for the study of Type II osteoporosis.
Keywords: Mouse; Male; Osteoporosis; Femur; Osteopenia; Aging