Absence of mechanical loading in utero influences bone mass and architecture but not innervation in Myod-Myf5-deficient mice

Cédric Gomez, Valentin David, Nicola M. Peet, Laurence Vico, Chantal Chenu, Luc Malaval*, Timothy M. Skerry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Although the responses of bone to increased loading or exercise have been studied in detail, our understanding of the effects of decreased usage of the skeleton has been limited by the scarcity of suitable models. Such models should ideally not affect bone innervation, which appears to be a mediator of physiological responses of bone to unloading. MyoD-/-/Myf5-/-(dd/ff) mice lack skeletal muscle, so the fetuses develop without any active movement in utero and die soon after birth. We used micro-compter tomography and histology to analyse their bone development and structure during endochondral ossification in parallel with the establishment of bone innervation. Long bones from mutant mice were found to be profoundly different from controls, with shorter mineralized zones and less mineralization. They lacked many characteristics of adult bones - curvatures, changes in shaft diameter and traction epiphyses where muscles originate or insert - that were evident in the controls. Histologically, dd/ff mice showed the same degree of endochondral development as wild-type animals, but presented many more osteoclasts in the newly layed bone. Innervation and the expression pattern of semaphorin-3A signalling molecules were not disturbed in the mutants. Overall, we have found no evidence for a major defect of development in dd/ff mice, and specifically no alteration or delay in endochondral ossification and bone innervation. The altered morphological features of dd/ff mice and the increased bone resorption show the role of muscle activity in bone shaping and the consequences of bone unloading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-271
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Bone development
  • Bone innervation
  • Bone unloading
  • Myf5
  • MyoD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology
  • Developmental Biology


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