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Bone research often focuses on anatomical imaging of the bone microstructure, but in order to gain better understanding in how bone remodeling is modulated through interventions also bone formation and resorption processes should be investigated. With this in mind, the purpose of this study was to establish a longitudinal in vivo imaging approach of bone formation and resorption using fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT). In this study the reproducibility, accuracy and sensitivity of FMT for bone imaging were assessed by performing longitudinal measurements with FMT and comparing it to in vivo micro-computed tomography on a set of control mice, and mice in which load-adaptation was induced in the sixth caudal vertebra. The precision error for FMT measurements, expressed as coefficient of variation, was smaller than 16%, indicating acceptable reproducibility. A correlation was found between bone resorption measured with FMT and bone resorption rate measured with in vivo micro-computed tomography only over the first 14 days (R = 0.81, p<0.01), but not between bone formation measured with FMT and bone formation rate measured with in vivo micro-CT. Bone formation measured by FMT was 89-109% greater (p<0.05) for mice subjected to mechanical loading than control mice. Bone resorption was 5-8% lower, but did not reach a significant difference between groups, indicating moderate sensitivity for FMT. In conclusion, in vivo FMT in mouse tail bones is feasible but needs to be optimized for monitoring load adaptation in living mice.
multimodality imaging; fluorescence molecular tomography ; in vivo micro-computed tomography dynamic bone morphometry ; bone