Tibial plateau fracture as a measure of early estrogen-dependent bone fragility in rats

J. C. Lotz, M. W. Kroeber, M. Heilmann, K. Pericherla, D. Kimmel, J. H. Kinney, Nancy E Lane

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3 Scopus citations


The goals of this study were to develop a protocol to induce a compressive fracture at the tibial plateau of the rat knee in vitro and to determine if the biomechanical parameters provided a sensitive assessment of the early skeletal changes induced by estrogen deficiency. Sixty-one rats underwent an ovariectomy (n = 36) or sham operation (n = 25) and were maintained for 50 days after the procedure. Just before death, the proximal tibia of each animal was scanned with high-resolution x-ray tomography. From the three-dimensional images, the mean trabecular bone volume, thickness, and separation and the number of trabeculae were calculated. The knees were then harvested and mounted into a servohydraulic materials testing system so that the distal femoral condyle could be forced into the proximal tibial plateau until fracture. The fracture load of the ovariectomized rats was 24% less than that of the rats that had the sham operation. Similarly, the structural stiffness of the ovariectomized knees was decreased by 22%. Both of these differences were statistically significant (p < 0.01) and were explained by differences in trabecular bone volume (r = 0.56, p < 0.0001 and r = 0.42, p < 0.005, respectively). The other measures of trabecular bone structure were correlated with the volume and did not improve the prediction by the biomechanical parameters. These data demonstrate that biomechanical testing of the tibial plateau in rats can quantify the structural consequences of estrogen deficiency at an early time point before they become apparent at other bone sites, such as the lumbar spine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-332
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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