Osteopontin (OPN), a phosphorylated glycoprotein, is among the most abundant non-collageneous bone matrix proteins produced by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. OPN has been implicated in bone formation, resorption and remodeling. However, previous studies have presented contradictory results regarding the effect of OPN on the mechanics and microstructure of bone. This study has used nanoindentation to identify local variations in elastic modulus and hardness of OPN deficient (OPN -/-) and wild-type control (OPN+/+) mouse bones. Specifically, the study has looked at changes in the mechanical properties of OPN-/- and OPN+/+ mouse bones with the mouse's age. Cortical sections of femurs from different age groups ranging from 3 weeks to 58 weeks were tested and compared. The results suggest that there are large, abrupt variations in mechanical properties across the femur's radial section for 3-week-old mouse bone. The hardness (H) drops significantly towards the inner and outer sections so the cortical bone has a mean H=3.66 GPa with a standard deviation of 2.44 GPa. In contrast, the hardness of the 58-week-old mouse bone had a standard deviation of 0.35 GPa and a mean H=1.45 GPa. The hardness across the radial axis of the 58-week-old bone was found to be quite uniform. The elastic modulus showed similar variations to the hardness with respect to age and position on the bone. We conclude that the mechanical properties of the mouse bones decrease substantially with maturity, and statistically the hardness and elastic modulus are more uniform in mature bones than young ones. Surprisingly we found a similar variation in both OPN-/- and OPN+/+ bones, with no statistically significant difference in the mechanical properties of the OPN -/- and OPN+/+ bones. The results for OPN-/- and OPN+/+ mouse bones are particularly important as control of OPN activity has been postulated as a potential treatment for bone pathologies that exhibit a change in the bone mineralization, such as osteoporosis, osteopetrosis and Paget's disease. Understanding the effects of OPN on bone mechanics is a vital step in the development of these new treatments.
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Mouse bones were provided by Dr. Susan Rittling (Rutgers University). Partial funding for this project was provided by the New Jersey Commission for Higher Education.
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Kavukcuoglu, B., West, C., Denhardt, D. et al. Effects of Osteopontin Deficiency and Aging on Nanomechanics of Mouse Bone. MRS Online Proceedings Library 841, R3.5/Y3.5 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-841-R3.5/Y3.5