Preclinical models (typically ovariectomized rats and genetically altered mice) have underpinned much of what we know about skeletal biology. They have been pivotal for developing therapies for osteoporosis and monogenic skeletal conditions, including osteogenesis imperfecta, achondroplasia, hypophosphatasia, and craniodysplasias. Further therapeutic advances, particularly to improve cortical strength, require improved understanding and more rigorous use and reporting.We describe here how trabecular and cortical bone structure develop, are maintained, and degenerate with aging in mice, rats, and humans, and how cortical bone structure is changed in some preclinical models of endocrine conditions (eg, postmenopausal osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, diabetes). We provide examples of preclinical models used to identify and test current therapies for osteoporosis, and discuss common concerns raised when comparing rodent preclinical models to the human skeleton. We focus especially on cortical bone, because it differs between small and larger mammals in its organizational structure. We discuss mechanisms common to mouse and human controlling cortical bone strength and structure, including recent examples revealing genetic contributors to cortical porosity and osteocyte network configurations during growth, maturity, and aging. We conclude with guidelines for clear reporting on mouse models with a goal for better consistency in the use and interpretation of these models.

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Endocrine Reviews

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Staff publications

Koh, Natalie Y Y, Miszkiewicz, J., Fac, Mary Louise, Wee, Natalie K Y, & Sims, Natalie A. (2024). Preclinical rodent models for human bone disease, including a focus on cortical bone. Endocrine Reviews, 2024(00). doi:10.1210/endrev/bnae004