Assessing minipig compact jawbone quality at the microscale

Kochetkova, Tatiana; Groetsch, Alexander; Indermaur, Michael; Peruzzi, Cinzia; Remund, Stefan; Neuenschwander, Beat; Bellon, Benjamin; Michler, Johann; Zysset, Philippe; Schwiedrzik, Jakob

Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 134 (2022)

Preclinical studies often require animal models for in vivo experiments. Particularly in dental research, pig species are extensively used due to their anatomical similarity to humans. However, there is a considerable knowledge gap on the multiscale morphological and mechanical properties of the miniature pigs’ jawbones, which is crucial for implant studies and a direct comparison to human tissue. In the present work, we demonstrate a multimodal framework to assess the jawbone quantity and quality for a minipig animal model that could be further extended to humans. Three minipig genotypes, commonly used in dental research, were examined: Yucatan, Göttingen, and Sinclair. Three animals per genotype were tested. Cortical bone samples were extracted from the premolar region of the mandible, opposite to the teeth growth. Global morphological, compositional, and mechanical properties were assessed using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) together with Raman spectroscopy and nanoindentation measurements, averaged over the sample area. Local mineral-mechanical relationships were investigated with the site-matched Raman spectroscopy and micropillar compression tests. For this, a novel femtosecond laser ablation protocol was developed, allowing high-throughput micropillar fabrication and testing without exposure to high vacuum. At the global averaged sample level, bone relative mineralization demonstrated a significant difference between the genotypes, which was not observed from the complementary micro-CT measurements. Moreover, bone hardness measured by nanoindentation showed a positive trend with the relative mineralization. For all genotypes, significant differences between the relative mineralization and elastic properties were more pronounced within the osteonal regions of cortical bone. Site-matched micropillar compression and Raman spectroscopy highlighted the differences between the genotypes’ yield stress and mineral to matrix ratios. The methods used at the global level (averaged over sample area) could be potentially correlated to the medical tools used to assess jawbone toughness and morphology in clinics. On the other hand, the local analysis methods can be applied to quantify compressive bone mechanical properties and their relationship to bone mineralization.