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  1. Introduction: Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at an alarming risk of fracture compared to age and sex-matched non-CKD individuals. Clinical and preclinical data highlight two key factors in CKD-induced skeletal fragility: cortical porosity and reduced matrix-level properties including bone hydration. Thus, strategies are needed to address these concerns to improve mechanical properties and ultimately lower fracture risk in CKD. We sought to evaluate the singular and combined effects of mechanical and pharmacological interventions on modulating porosity, bone hydration, and mechanical properties in CKD. Methods: Sixteen-week-old male C57BL/6J mice underwent a 10-week CKD induction period via a 0.2 % adenine-laced casein-based diet (n = 48) or remained as non-CKD littermate controls (Con, n = 48). Following disease induction (26 weeks of age), n = 7 CKD and n = 7 Con were sacrificed (baseline cohort) to confirm a steady-state CKD state was achieved prior to the initiation of treatment. At 27 weeks of age, all remaining mice underwent right tibial loading to a maximum tensile strain of 2050 μƐ 3× a week for five weeks with the contralateral limb as a non-loaded control. Half of the mice (equal number CKD and Con) received subcutaneous injections of 0.5 mg/kg raloxifene (RAL) 5× a week, and the other half remained untreated (UN). Mice were sacrificed at 31 weeks of age. Serum biochemistries were performed, and bi-lateral tibiae were assessed for microarchitecture, whole bone and tissue level mechanical properties, and composition including bone hydration. Results: Regardless of intervention, BUN and PTH were higher in CKD animals throughout the study. In CKD, the combined effects of loading and RAL were quantified as lower cortical porosity and improved mechanical, material, and compositional properties, including higher matrix-bound water. Loading was generally responsible for positive impacts in cortical geometry and structural mechanical properties, while RAL treatment improved some trabecular outcomes and material-level mechanical properties and was responsible for improvements in several compositional parameters. While control animals responded positively to loading, their bones were less impacted by the RAL treatment, showing no deformation, toughness, or bound water improvements which were all evident in CKD. Serum PTH levels were negatively correlated with matrix-bound water. Discussion: An effective treatment program to improve fracture risk in CKD ideally focuses on the cortical bone and considers both cortical porosity and matrix properties. Loading-induced bone formation and mechanical improvements were observed across groups, and in the CKD cohort, this included lower cortical porosity. This study highlights that RAL treatment superimposed on active bone formation may be ideal for reducing skeletal complications in CKD by forming new bone with enhanced matrix properties. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2025
  2. Raloxifene (RAL) reduces clinical fracture risk despite modest effects on bone mass and density. This reduction in fracture risk may be due to improved material level-mechanical properties through a non-cell mediated increase in bone hydration. Synthetic salmon calcitonin (CAL) has also demonstrated efficacy in reducing fracture risk with only modest bone mass and density improvements. This study aimed to determine if CAL could modify healthy and diseased bone through cell-independent mechanisms that alter hydration similar to RAL. 26-week-old male C57BL/6 mice induced with chronic kidney disease (CKD) beginning at 16 weeks of age via 0.2 % adenine-laced casein-based (0.9 % P, 0.6 % C) chow, and their non-CKD control littermates (Con), were utilized. Upon sacrifice, right femora were randomly assigned to the following ex vivo experimental groups: RAL (2 μM, n = 10 CKD, n = 10 Con), CAL (100 nM, n = 10 CKD, n = 10 Con), or Vehicle (VEH; n = 9 CKD, n = 9 Con). Bones were incubated in PBS + drug solution at 37 °C for 14 days using an established ex vivo soaking methodology. Cortical geometry (μCT) was used to confirm a CKD bone phenotype, including porosity and cortical thinning, at sacrifice. Femora were assessed for mechanical properties (3-point bending) and bone hydration (via solid state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy with magic angle spinning (ssNMR)). Data were analyzed by two-tailed t-tests (μCT) or 2-way ANOVA for main effects of disease, treatment, and their interaction. Tukey's post hoc analyses followed a significant main effect of treatment to determine the source of the effect. Imaging confirmed a cortical phenotype reflective of CKD, including lower cortical thickness (p < 0.0001) and increased cortical porosity (p = 0.02) compared to Con. In addition, CKD resulted in weaker, less deformable bones. In CKD bones, ex vivo exposure to RAL or CAL improved total work (+120 % and +107 %, respectively; p < 0.05), post-yield work (+143 % and +133 %), total displacement (+197 % and +229 %), total strain (+225 % and +243 %), and toughness (+158 % and +119 %) vs. CKD VEH soaked bones. Ex vivo exposure to RAL or CAL did not impact any mechanical properties in Con bone. Matrix-bound water by ssNMR showed CAL treated bones had significantly higher bound water compared to VEH treated bones in both CKD and Con cohorts (p = 0.001 and p = 0.01, respectively). RAL positively modulated bound water in CKD bone compared to VEH (p = 0.002) but not in Con bone. There were no significant differences between bones soaked with CAL vs. RAL for any outcomes measured. RAL and CAL improve important post-yield properties and toughness in a non-cell mediated manner in CKD bone but not in Con bones. While RAL treated CKD bones had higher matrix-bound water content in line with previous reports, both Con and CKD bones exposed to CAL had higher matrix-bound water. Therapeutic modulation of water, specifically the bound water fraction, represents a novel approach to improving mechanical properties and potentially reducing fracture risk. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
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  5. Trabecular bone is composed of organized mineralized collagen fibrils, which results in heterogeneous and anisotropic mechanical properties at the tissue level. Recently, biomechanical models computing stresses and strains in trabecular bone have indicated a significant effect of tissue heterogeneity on predicted stresses and strains. How-ever, the effect of the tissue-level mechanical anisotropy on the trabecular bone biomechanical response is unknown. Here, a computational method was established to automatically impose physiologically relevant orientation inherent in trabecular bone tissue on a trabecular bone microscale finite element model. Spatially varying tissue-level anisotropic elastic properties were then applied according to the bone mineral density and the local tissue orientation. The model was used to test the hypothesis that anisotropy in both homogeneous and heterogeneous models alters the predicted distribution of stress invariants. Linear elastic finite element computations were performed on a 3 mm cube model isolated from a microcomputed tomography scan of human trabecular bone from the distal femur. Hydrostatic stress and von Mises equivalent stress were recorded at every element, and the distributions of these values were analyzed. Anisotropy reduced the range of hydrostatic stress in both tension and compression more strongly than the associated increase in von Mises equivalent stress. The effect of anisotropy was independent of the spatial redistribution high compressive stresses due to tissue elastic heterogeneity. Tissue anisotropy and heterogeneity are likely important mechanisms to protect bone from failure and should be included for stress analyses in trabecular bone. 
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