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Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(3):169-175. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.169

Research Paper

Differences in Trabecular Bone of Leptin-Deficient ob/ob Mice in Response to Biomechanical Loading

Hansjoerg Heep, Christian Wedemeyer, Alexander Wegner, Sebastian Hofmeister, Marius von Knoch

Department of Orthopaedics, University of Duisburg-Essen, Pattbergstrasse 1-3, 45239 Essen, Germany
* Study was performed at the University of Duisburg - Essen, Deutschland


Objective: It is known that bone mineral density (BMD) and the strength of bone is predicted by body mass. Fat mass is a significant predictor of bone mineral density which correlates with body weight. This suggests that body fat regulates bone metabolism first by means of hormonal factors and second that the effects of muscle and loading are signaling factors in mechanotransduction. Leptin, a peptide hormone produced predominantly by white fat cells, is one of these hormonal factors. The aim of this study was to investigate and measure by micro-CT the different effects of weight-bearing on trabecular bone formation in mice without the stimulation of leptin.

Results: Animals with an ad-libitum-diet (Group A) were found to increase body weight significantly at the age of six weeks in comparison with lean mice (Group B). From this point on, the difference increased constantly. At the age of twenty weeks the obese mice were almost twice as heavy as the lean mice. Significant statistical differences are shown between the two groups for body weight and bone mineral density. Examination of trabecular bone (BV/TV, trabecular number (Tb.N.), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th.)) revealed that the only statistically significant difference between the two groups was the Tb.N. for the proximal femur. High weight-bearing insignificantly improved all trabecular bone parameters in the obese mice. Compared with the control-diet Group B, the BV/TV and Tb.N. were slightly higher in the controlled-diet Group A, but not the Tb.Th.. However, correlation was found between Tb.N. and BMD on the one hand and body weight on the other hand.

Conclusion: biomechanical loading led to decreased bone mineral density by a decrease in the number of trabeculae. Trabecular thickness was not increased by biomechanical loading in growing mice. Decreased body weight in leptin-deficient mice protects against bone loss. This finding is consistent with the principle of light-weight construction of bone. Differences in cortical and trabecular bone will be examined in later studies. It is not possible to conclude that these results also apply to human beings.

Keywords: Bone mineral density, leptin, biomechanical loading, micro-CT, mice

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How to cite this article:
Heep H, Wedemeyer C, Wegner A, Hofmeister S, von Knoch M. Differences in Trabecular Bone of Leptin-Deficient ob/ob Mice in Response to Biomechanical Loading. Int J Biol Sci 2008; 4(3):169-175. doi:10.7150/ijbs.4.169. Available from