Impaired mechanical strength of bone in experimental copper deficiency

J Jonas, J Burns, EW Abel, MJ Cresswell, JJ Strain, CR Paterson

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89 Citations (Scopus)


Copper, through its role as cofactor for lysyl oxidase, is essential for intra- and inter-molecular cross-links in collagen. Copper deficiency, in man and in animals, is associated with bone fragility ascribed to defective cross-links. To assess bone strength in copper-deficient animals, we designed a sensitive torsion-testing apparatus according to biomechanical considerations. Femora from 7 copper-deficient rats and from their pair-fed controls were tested in torsional loading until fracture. Significant decreases in the maximal sustained torque (t = 2.93, p < 0.05), in the ultimate angular deformation (t = 2.52, p < 0.05) and in the toughness (t = 2.88, p < 0.05) were demonstrated. In a complementary study, it was shown that the ash weight and the calcium content of the femora from the copper-deficient animals did not differ from those of the controls. It was likely, therefore, that the impaired mechanical strength was related to defects in the collagen component of bone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-252
JournalAnnals of Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 1993


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