Cortical and Trabecular Bone Benefits of Mechanical Loading Are Maintained Long Term in Mice Independent of Ovariectomy Academic Article uri icon


  • Skeletal loading enhances cortical and trabecular bone properties. How long these benefits last after loading cessation remains an unresolved, clinically relevant question. This study investigated long-term maintenance of loading-induced cortical and trabecular bone benefits in female C57BL/6 mice and the influence of a surgically induced menopause on the maintenance. Sixteen-week-old animals had their right tibia extrinsically loaded 3 days/week for 4 weeks using the mouse tibial axial compression loading model. Left tibias were not loaded and served as internal controls. Animals were subsequently detrained (restricted to cage activities) for 0, 4, 8, 26, or 52 weeks, with ovariectomy (OVX) or sham-OVX surgery being performed at 0 weeks detraining. Loading increased midshaft tibia cortical bone mass, size, and strength, and proximal tibia bone volume fraction. The cortical bone mass, area, and thickness benefits of loading were lost by 26 weeks of detraining because of heightened medullary expansion. However, loading-induced benefits on bone total area and strength were maintained at each detraining time point. Similarly, the benefits of loading on bone volume fraction persisted at all detraining time points. The long-term benefits of loading on both cortical and trabecular bone were not influenced by a surgically induced menopause because there were no interactions between loading and surgery. However, OVX had independent effects on cortical bone properties at early (4 and 8 weeks) detraining time points and trabecular bone properties at all detraining time points. These cumulative data indicate loading has long-term benefits on cortical bone size and strength (but not mass) and trabecular bone morphology, which are not influenced by a surgically induced menopause. This suggests skeletal loading associated with physical activity may provide long-term benefits by preparing the skeleton to offset both the cortical and trabecular bone changes associated with aging and menopause.


  • Warden, Stuart J
  • Galley, Matthew R
  • Hurd, Andrea L
  • Richard, Jeffrey S
  • George, Lydia A
  • Guildenbecher, Elizabeth A
  • Barker, Rick G
  • Fuchs, Robyn K

publication date

  • 2014