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Keywords:

  • skeleton;
  • fractures;
  • biomechanics;
  • linkage genetics;
  • quantitative trait

Abstract

Fracture susceptibility depends jointly on bone mineral content (BMC), gross bone anatomy, and bone microarchitecture and quality. Overall, it has been estimated that 50-70% of bone strength is determined genetically. Because of the difficulty of performing studies of the genetics of bone strength in humans, we have used the HcB/Dem series of recombinant congenic (RC) mice to investigate this phenotype. We performed a comprehensive phenotypic analysis of the HcB/Dem strains including morphological analysis of long bones, measurement of ash percentage, and biomechanical testing. Body mass, ash percentage, and moment of inertia each correlated moderately but imperfectly with biomechanical performance. Several chromosome regions, on chromosomes 1, 2, 8, 10, 11, and 12, show sufficient evidence of linkage to warrant closer examination in further crosses. These studies support the view that mineral content, diaphyseal diameter, and additional nonmineral material properties contributing to overall bone strength are controlled by distinct sets of genes. Moreover, the mapping data are consistent with the existence of pleiotropic loci for bone strength-related phenotypes. These findings show the importance of factors other than mineral content in determining skeletal performance and that these factors can be dissected genetically.