Ovariectomy-Induced Bone Loss Varies Among Inbred Strains of Mice


  • The authors have no conflict of interest.


There is a subset of women who experience particularly rapid bone loss during and after the menopause. However, the factors that lead to this enhanced bone loss remain obscure. We show that patterns of bone loss after ovariectomy vary among inbred strains of mice, providing evidence that there may be genetic regulation of bone loss induced by estrogen deficiency.

Introduction: Both low BMD and increased rate of bone loss are risk factors for fracture. Bone loss during and after the menopause is influenced by multiple hormonal factors. However, specific determinants of the rate of bone loss are poorly understood, although it has been suggested that genetic factors may play a role. We tested whether genetic factors may modulate bone loss subsequent to estrogen deficiency by comparing the skeletal response to ovariectomy in inbred strains of mice.

Materials and Methods: Four-month-old mice from five inbred mouse strains (C3H/HeJ, BALB/cByJ, CAST/EiJ, DBA2/J, and C57BL/6J) underwent ovariectomy (OVX) or sham-OVX surgery (n = 6-9/group). After 1 month, mice were killed, and μCT was used to compare cortical and trabecular bone response to OVX.

Results: The effect of OVX on trabecular bone varied with mouse strain and skeletal site. Vertebral trabecular bone volume (BV/TV) declined after OVX in all strains (−15 to −24%), except for C3H/HeJ. In contrast, at the proximal tibia, C3H/HeJ mice had a greater decline in trabecular BV/TV (−39%) than C57BL/6J (−18%), DBA2/J (−23%), and CAST/EiJ mice (−21%). OVX induced declines in cortical bone properties, but in contrast to trabecular bone, the effect of OVX did not vary by mouse strain. The extent of trabecular bone loss was greatest in those mice with highest trabecular BV/TV at baseline, whereas cortical bone loss was lowest among those with high cortical bone parameters at baseline.

Conclusions: We found that the skeletal response to OVX varies in a site- and compartment-specific fashion among inbred mouse strains, providing support for the hypothesis that bone loss during and after the menopause is partly genetically regulated.