Bone modeling response to voluntary exercise in the hindlimb of mice



The functional adaptation of juvenile mammalian limb bone to mechanical loading is necessary to maintain bone strength. Diaphyseal size and shape are modified during growth through the process of bone modeling. Although bone modeling is a well-documented response to increased mechanical stress on growing diaphyseal bone, the effect of proximodistal location on bone modeling remains unclear. Distal limb elements in cursorial mammals are longer and thinner, most likely to conserve energy during locomotion because they require less energy to move. Therefore, distal elements are hypothesized to experience greater mechanical loading during locomotion and may be expected to exhibit a greater modeling response to exercise. In this study, histomorphometric comparisons are made between femora and tibiae of mice treated with voluntary exercise and a control group (N = 20). We find that femora of exercised mice exhibit both greater bone growth rates and growth areas than do controls (P < 0.05). The femora of exercised mice also have significantly greater cortical area, bending rigidity, and torsional rigidity (P < 0.05), although bending and torsional rigidity are comparable when standardized by bone length. Histomorphometric and cross-section geometric properties of the tibial midshaft of exercised and control mice did not differ significantly, although tibial length was significantly greater in exercised mice (P < 0.05). Femora of exercised mice were able to adapt to increased mechanical loading through increases in compressive, bending, and torsional rigidity. No such adaptations were found in the tibia. It is unclear if this is a biomechanical adaptation to greater stress in proximal elements or if distal elements are ontogenetically constrained in a tradeoff of bone strength of distal elements for bioenergetic efficiency during locomotion. J. Morphol., 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.