The material basis for reduced mechanical properties in oim mice bones
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a heritable disease caused by molecular defects in type I collagen, is characterized by skeletal deformities and brittle bones. The heterozygous and homozygous oim mice (oim/+ and oim/oim) exhibit mild and severe OI phenotypes, respectively, serving as controlled animal models of this disease. In the current study, bone geometry, mechanics, and material properties of 1-year-old mice were evaluated to determine factors that influence the severity of phenotype in OI. The oim/oim mice exhibited significantly smaller body size, femur length, and moment of area compared with oim/+ and wild-type (+/+) controls. The oim/oim femur mechanical properties of failure torque and stiffness were 40% and 30%, respectively, of the +/+ values, and 53% and 36% of the oim/+ values. Collagen content was reduced by 20% in the oim/oim compared with +/+ bone and tended to be intermediate to these values for the oim/+. Mineral content was not significantly different between the oim/oim and +/+ bones. However, the oim/oim ash content was significantly reduced compared with that of the oim/+. Mineral carbonate content was reduced by 23% in the oim/oim bone compared with controls. Mineral crystallinity was reduced in the oim/oim and oim/+ bone compared with controls. Overall, for the majority of parameters examined (geometrical, mechanical, and material), the oim/+ values were intermediate to those of the oim/oim and +/+, a finding that parallels the phenotypes of the mice. This provides evidence that specific material properties, such as mineral crystallinity and collagen content, are indicative and possibly predictive of bone fragility in this mouse model, and by analogy in human OI.