Quantification of Skeletal Phenotype Using Micro-CT and Mechanical Testing
Robertson, Galen Charles
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With the vast array of genetically altered (knockout) mice becoming available there is a need for quantitative, repeatable, and efficient methodologies to characterize the phenotypic consequences of knocking out specific genes. Since knockout animals often have the ability to compensate for a single missing gene, it is important to examine the structural, material and morphological properties to obtain a thorough understanding of the changes occurring. For this project, femurs of knockout mice were first scanned using microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) to obtain high-resolution images of the trabecular bone in the distal femur, as well as cortical bone in the mid-diaphysis. After scanning, the femurs were tested to destruction in four-point bending at the mid-diaphysis about the medial lateral axis of the femur. These methodologies allowed quantification of (1) morphologic properties such as bone volume fraction, trabecular properties and 2nd moment of the area (2) structural properties such as stiffness, maximum load at failure, and post yield deformation and (3) material properties such as bone mineral density, elastic modulus and yield strength. As part of two independent studies, two different knockout mice, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2 -/-) and Apolipoprotein E (APOE -/-), were examined for structure-function relationships using these methodologies. COX-2 knockout mice were found to have decreased mineral content in their femurs, and increased post yield deformation. APOE knockout mice at 10 weeks of age had decreased bone mass and structural properties. However, by 40 weeks of age APOE deficient mice caught up to and exceeded the structural properties and bone mass of their wild type counterparts.