It remains uncertain which skeletal sites and parameters should be analyzed in rodent studies evaluating bone health and disease. In this cross-sectional mouse study using micro-computed tomography (µCT), we explored: (1) which microstructural parameters can be used to discriminate female from male bones and (2) whether it is meaningful to evaluate more than one bone site. Microstructural parameters of the trabecular and/or cortical compartments of the femur, tibia, thoracic and lumbar vertebral bodies, and skull were evaluated by µCT in 10 female and 10 male six-month-old C57BL/6J mice. The trabecular number (TbN) was significantly higher, while the trabecular separation (TbSp) was significantly lower in male compared to female mice at all skeletal sites assessed. Overall, bone volume/tissue volume (BV/TV) was also significantly higher in male vs. female mice (except for the thoracic spine, which did not differ by sex). Most parameters of the cortical bone microstructure did not differ between male and female mice. BV/TV, TbN, and TbSp at the femur, and TbN and TbSp at the tibia and lumbar spine could fully (100%) discriminate female from male bones. Cortical thickness (CtTh) at the femur was the best parameter to detect sex differences in the cortical compartment (AUC = 0.914). In 6-month-old C57BL/6J mice, BV/TV, TbN, and TbSp can be used to distinguish male from female bones. Whenever it is not possible to assess multiple bone sites, we propose to evaluate the bone microstructure of the femur for detecting potential sex differences.
- X-Ray Microtomography/methods
- Bone Density
- Mice, Inbred C57BL
- Cross-Sectional Studies
- Bone and Bones/diagnostic imaging