With aging, the skeleton may lose its ability to respond to positive mechanical stimuli. We hypothesized that aged mice are less responsive to loading than young-adult mice. We subjected aged (22 months) and young-adult (7 months) BALB/c male mice to daily bouts of axial tibial compression for 1 week and evaluated cortical and trabecular responses using micro-computed tomography (μCT) and dynamic histomorphometry. The right legs of 95 mice were loaded for 60 rest-inserted cycles per day to 8, 10, or 12 N peak force (generating mid-diaphyseal strains of 900 to 1900 με endocortically and 1400 to 3100 με periosteally). At the mid-diaphysis, mice from both age groups showed a strong anabolic response on the endocortex (Ec) and periosteum (Ps) [Ec.MS/BS and Ps.MS/BS: loaded (right) versus control (left), p < .05]. Generally, bone formation increased with increasing peak force. At the endocortical surface, contrary to our hypothesis, aged mice had a significantly greater response to loading than young-adult mice (Ec.MS/BS and Ec.BFR/BS: 22 months versus 7 months, p < .001). Responses at the periosteal surface did not differ between age groups (p > .05). The loading-induced increase in bone formation resulted in increased cortical area in both age groups (loaded versus control, p < .05). In contrast to the strong cortical response, loading only weakly stimulated trabecular bone formation. Serial (in vivo) μCT examinations at the proximal metaphysis revealed that loading caused a loss of trabecular bone in 7-month-old mice, whereas it appeared to prevent bone loss in 22-month-old mice. In summary, 1 week of daily tibial compression stimulated a robust endocortical and periosteal bone-formation response at the mid-diaphysis in both young-adult and aged male BALB/c mice. We conclude that aging does not limit the short-term anabolic response of cortical bone to mechanical stimulation in our animal model.
- Bone formation
- Tibial compression