Background: Bone microarchitecture is affected by multiple genes, each having a small effect on the external appearance. It is thus challenging to characterize the genes and their specific effect on bone thickness and porosity. The purpose of this study was to assess the heritability and the genetic variation effect, as well as the sex effect on the calvarial bone thickness (Ca.Th) and calvarial porosity (%PoV) using the Collaborative Cross (CC) mouse population. Methods: In the study we examined the parietal bones of 56 mice from 9 lines of CC mice. Morphometric parameters were evaluated using microcomputed tomography (μCT) and included Ca.Th and %PoV. We then evaluated heritability, genetic versus environmental variance and the sex effect for these parameters. Results: Our morphometric analysis showed that Ca.Th and %PoV are both significantly different among the CC lines with a broad sense heritability of 0.78 and 0.90, respectively. The sex effect within the lines was significant in line IL111 and showed higher values of Ca.Th and %PoV in females compared to males. In line IL19 there was a borderline sex effect in Ca.Th in which males showed higher values than females. Conclusions: These results stress the complexity of sex and genotype interactions controlling Ca.Th and %PoV, as the skeletal sexual dimorphism was dependent on the genetic background. This study also shows that the CC population is a powerful tool for establishing the genetic effect on these traits.
- calvarial porosity (%PoV)
- calvarial thickness (Ca.Th)
- collaborative cross mouse population
- sex effect