Trabecular Bone Loss at a Distant Skeletal Site Following Noninvasive Knee Injury in Mice

Blaine A Christiansen, Armaun J. Emami, David P Fyhrie, Patrick B. Satkunananthan, Michael R. Hardisty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Traumatic injuries can have systemic consequences, as the early inflammatory response after trauma can lead to tissue destruction at sites not affected by the initial injury. This systemic catabolism may occur in the skeleton following traumatic injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. However, bone loss following injury at distant, unrelated skeletal sites has not yet been established. In the current study, we utilized a mouse knee injury model to determine whether acute knee injury causes a mechanically significant trabecular bone loss at a distant, unrelated skeletal site (L5 vertebral body). Knee injury was noninvasively induced using either high-speed (HS; 500 mm/s) or low-speed (LS; 1 mm/s) tibial compression overload. HS injury creates an ACL rupture by midsubstance tear, while LS injury creates an ACL rupture with an associated avulsion bone fracture. At 10 days post-injury, vertebral trabecular bone structure was quantified using high-resolution microcomputed tomography (μCT), and differences in mechanical properties were determined using finite element modeling (FEM) and compressive mechanical testing. We hypothesized that knee injury would initiate a loss of trabecular bone structure and strength at the L5 vertebral body. Consistent with our hypothesis, we found significant decreases in trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV) and trabecular number at the L5 vertebral body in LS injured mice compared to sham (-8.8% and -5.0%, respectively), while HS injured mice exhibited a similar, but lower magnitude response (-5.1% and -2.5%, respectively). Contrary to our hypothesis, this decrease in trabecular bone structure did not translate to a significant deficit in compressive stiffness or ultimate load of the full trabecular body assessed by mechanical testing or FEM. However, we were able to detect significant decreases in compressive stiffness in both HS and LS injured specimens when FE models were loaded directly through the trabecular bone region (-9.9% and -8.1%, and 3, respectively). This finding may be particularly important for osteoporotic fracture risk, as damage within vertebral bodies has been shown to initiate within the trabecular bone compartment. Altogether, these data point to a systemic trabecular bone loss as a consequence of fracture or traumatic musculoskeletal injury, which may be an underlying mechanism contributing to increased risk of refracture following an initial injury. This finding may have consequences for treatment of acute musculoskeletal injuries and the prevention of future bone fragility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011005
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • ACL rupture
  • finite element modeling
  • mechanical testing
  • osteoporosis
  • trabecular bone
  • vertebral body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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