Age-related changes in human trabecular bone: Relationship between microstructural stress and strain and damage morphology. Academic Article uri icon


  • Accumulation of microdamage in aging and disease can cause skeletal fragility and is one of several factors contributing to osteoporotic fractures. To better understand the role of microdamage in fragility fracture, the mechanisms of bone failure must be elucidated on a tissue-level scale where interactions between bone matrix properties, the local biomechanical environment, and bone architecture are concurrently examined for their contributions to microdamage formation. A technique combining histological damage assessment of individual trabeculae with linear finite element solutions of trabecular von Mises and principal stress and strain was used to compare the damage initiation threshold between pre-menopausal (32-37 years, n=3 donors) and post-menopausal (71-80 years, n=3 donors) femoral cadaveric bone. Strong associations between damage morphology and stress and strain parameters were observed in both groups, and an age-related decrease in undamaged trabecular von Mises stress was detected. In trabeculae from younger donors, the 95% CI for von Mises stress on undamaged regions ranged from 50.7-67.9MPa, whereas in trabeculae from older donors, stresses were significantly lower (38.7-50.2, p<0.01). Local microarchitectural analysis indicated that thinner, rod-like trabeculae oriented along the loading axis are more susceptible to severe microdamage formation in older individuals, while only rod-like architecture was associated with severe damage in younger individuals. This study therefore provides insight into how damage initiation and morphology relate to local trabecular microstructure and the associated stresses and strains under loading. Furthermore, by comparison of samples from pre- and post-menopausal women, the results suggest that trabeculae from younger individuals can sustain higher stresses prior to microdamage initiation.

published proceedings

  • J Biomech

author list (cited authors)

  • Green, J. O., Nagaraja, S., Diab, T., Vidakovic, B., & Guldberg, R. E.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Green, Jessica O||Nagaraja, Srinidhi||Diab, Tamim||Vidakovic, Brani||Guldberg, Robert E

publication date

  • August 2011