Nanostructure and mineral composition of trabecular bone in the lateral femoral neck: Implications for bone fragility in elderly women
Rakočević, Zlatko Lj.
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Despite interest in investigating age-related hip fractures, the determinants of decreased bone strength in advanced age are not clear enough. Hitherto it has been obscure how the aging process affects the femoral neck nanostructure and composition, particularly in the lateral subregion of the femoral neck, which is considered as a fracture-initiating site. The femoral bone samples used in this study were obtained at autopsy in 10 women without skeletal disease (five younger: aged 20-40 years, and five elderly: aged 73-94 years). Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was applied to explore the mineral grain size in situ in young vs. old trabecular bone samples from the lateral femoral neck. The chemical compositions of the samples were determined using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and direct current argon arc plasma optical emission spectrometry. Our AFM study revealed differences in trabecular bone nanostructure between young and elderly women. The mineral grain si...ze in the trabeculae of the old women was larger than that in the young (median: 95 vs. 59 nm), with a particular bimodal distribution: 45% were small grains (similar to the young) and the rest were larger. Since chemical analyses showed that levels of calcium and phosphorus were unchanged with age, our study suggests that during aging the existing bone mineral is reorganized and forms larger aggregates. Given the mechanical disadvantage of large-grained structures (decreased material strength), the observed nanostructural differences contribute to our understanding of the increased fragility of the lateral femoral neck in aged females. Moreover, increasing data on mineral grains in natural bone is essential for advancing calcium-phosphate ceramics for bone tissue replacement. (C) 2011 Acts Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.