Cortical mineralization of long bones was studied in collagen α2(I)-deficient mice (oim) used as a model for human osteogenesis imperfecta. Aspects of the age development of the mice were characterized by combining nanometer- to micrometer-scale structural analysis with microhardness measurements. Bone structure was determined from homozygous (oim/oim) and heterozygous (oim/+) mice and their normal (+/+) littermates as a function of animal age by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and quantitative backscattered electron imaging (qBEI) measurements. SAXS studies found anomalies in the size and arrangement of bone mineral crystals in both homozygous and heterozygous mice aged 1–14 months. Generally, the crystals were smaller in thickness and less well aligned in these mice compared with control animals. An increase in the mean crystal thickness of the bone was found within all three genotypes up to an age of 3 months. Vicker’s hardness measurements were significantly enhanced for oim bone (homozygotes and heterozygotes) compared with controls. The microhardness values were correlated directly with increased mineral content of homozygous and heterozygous compared with control bone, as determined by qBEI analysis. There was also a significant increase of mineral content with age. Two possibilities for collagen-mineral association are discussed for explaining the increased hardness and mineral content of oim/oim bone, together with its decreased toughness and thinner mineral crystals. As a consequence of the present measurements, one model for oim bone could incorporate small and densely packed mineral crystals. A second model for possible collagen-mineral association in oim material would consist of two families of mineral crystals, one being smaller and the other being much larger than the crystals found in normal mouse long bones.
Keywords: Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI); Murine model, Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS); Quantitative backscattered electron imaging (qBEI), Mineral density distribution; Microhardness