Growth rate rather than gender determines the size of the adaptive response of the growing skeleton to mechanical strain

J R Mosley, L E Lanyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether male and female skeletons are equally responsive to mechanical load, the left ulnae in a group of juvenile male (n = 7), and age-matched female (n = 9) rats received a short daily period of controlled dynamic loading in vivo (1200 cycles at 2 Hz each day for 10 days) in addition to their normal exercise. Axial loads for each group were adjusted to engender a peak dynamic strain of -4000 microstrain at the medial face of the ulna midshaft, applied and released at a rate of +/-30,000 microstrain/sec. Fluorescent labels were administered at the start and finish of the loading period. Over the course of daily loading, the body mass of the male rats increased 2.5 times faster than that of the females (6.3 g/day vs. 2.5 g/day). The increase in periosteal interlabel bone area due to growth and normal exercise was also 2.5 times greater in the males than in the females. Both genders showed statistically significant (p < 0.05) increases in periosteal new bone deposition in the ulna of their loaded compared with their control limb. The pattern of osteogenic response was similar in males and females and featured increased mineral apposition rate on the lateral surface of the ulna, and arrest of modelin g-drift-related resorption with its reversal to bone formation on the medial surface. In males, the absolute loading-related increase in bone area was six times greater than that in females. How-ever, when the absolute size of the loading-related change in periosteal interlabel new bone deposition was expressed relative to that due to growth, there was no difference between males and females (Mean +/- SEM: 37 +/- 12% for males, 34 +/- 12 % for females). These data confirm that the ulna of young actively growing rats of both genders responds to a short daily period of loading with an altered modeling response that involves increased bone formation and decreased resorption. Although the absolute amount of new bone formation stimulated by loading is greater in males than in females there is no difference between genders following correction for the higher rate of bone deposition seen in the males in association,with their faster rate of growth. (C) 2002 by Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-319
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002


  • mechanical strain
  • adaptation cortical bone
  • growth
  • rat
  • ulna
  • MASS


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