Changes in Bone Structure and Mass With Advancing Age in the Male C57BL/6J Mouse


  • The authors have no conflict of interest


To determine whether the mouse loses bone with aging and whether the changes mimic those observed in human aging, we examined the changes in the tibial metaphysis and diaphysis in the male C57BL/6J mouse over its life span using microcomputed tomography (μCT). Cancellous bone volume fraction (BV/TV) decreased 60% between 6 weeks and 24 months of age. Loss was characterized by decreased trabecular number (Tb.N), increased trabecular spacing (Tb.Sp), and decreased connectivity. Anisotropy decreased while the structure model index increased with age. Cortical bone thickness increased between 6 weeks and 6 months of age and then decreased continuously to 24 months (−12%). Cortical bone area (Ct.Ar) remained constant between 6 and 24 months. Fat-free weight reached a peak at 12 months and gradually declined to 24 months. Total mass lost between 12 and 24 months reached 10%. Overall, the age-related changes in skeletal mass and architecture in the mouse were remarkably similar to those seen in human aging. Furthermore, the rapid early loss of cancellous bone suggests that bone loss is not just associated with old age in the mouse but rather occurs as a continuum from early growth. We conclude that the C57BL/6J male mouse maybe a useful model to study at least some aspects of age-related bone loss in humans.