The effects of estrogen deficiency on cortical bone microporosity and mineralization

Divya Sharma, Adriana I. Larriera, Paolo E. Palacio-Mancheno, Vittorio Gatti, J. Christopher Fritton, Timothy G. Bromage, Luis Cardoso, Stephen B. Doty, Susannah P. Fritton

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Recent studies have demonstrated matrix-mineral alterations in bone tissue surrounding osteocytes in estrogen-deficient animals. While cortical bone porosity has been shown to be a contributor to the mechanical properties of bone tissue, little analysis has been done to investigate the effects of estrogen deficiency on bone's microporosities, including the vascular and osteocyte lacunar porosities. In this study we examined alterations in cortical bone microporosity, mineralization, and cancellous bone architecture due to estrogen deficiency in the ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Twenty-week-old female Sprague–Dawley rats were subjected to either ovariectomy or sham surgery. Six weeks post-surgery tibiae were analyzed using high-resolution micro-CT, backscattered electron imaging, nanoindentation, and dynamic histomorphometry. Estrogen deficiency caused an increase in cortical bone vascular porosity, with enlarged vascular pores and little change in tissue mineral density in the proximal tibial metaphysis. Measurements of cancellous architecture corresponded to previous studies reporting a decrease in bone volume fraction, an increase in trabecular separation, and a decrease in trabecular number in the proximal tibia due to estrogen deficiency. Nanoindentation results showed no differences in matrix stiffness in osteocyte-rich areas of the proximal tibia of estrogen-deficient rats, and bone labeling and backscattered electron imaging showed no significant changes in mineralization around the vascular pores. The findings demonstrate local surface alterations of vascular pores due to estrogen deficiency. An increase in cortical vascular porosity may diminish bone strength as well as alter bone mechanotransduction via interstitial fluid flow, both of which could contribute to bone fragility during postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


  • Bone mechanotransduction
  • Cortical porosity
  • Osteocyte lacunar porosity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vascular porosity

Cite this

Sharma, D., Larriera, A. I., Palacio-Mancheno, P. E., Gatti, V., Fritton, J. C., Bromage, T. G., ... Fritton, S. P. (2018). The effects of estrogen deficiency on cortical bone microporosity and mineralization. Bone, 110, 1-10.