Age-related deterioration in trabecular bone mechanical properties at material level: Nanoindentation study of the femoral neck in women by using AFM
Rakočević, Zlatko Lj.
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Despite general belief that the mechanical properties of bone material contribute to whole bone strength, it is still obscure what the age effects are on mechanical behavior of the bone material, particularly in the case of the femoral neck trabeculae. In this study, atomic force microscopy was used for imaging and measuring the size of mineral grains, as well as nano-scale mechanical characterization (nanoindentation) of the bone mineralized matrix of trabeculae, with the aim to explore the age effects on bone elasticity and give new insight into age-related bone fragility. The bone samples in this study comprised trabecular bone specimens of the femoral neck region, collected from eight skeletal healthy women (five young adults: 27-38 yrs., three elderly: 83-94 yrs.) at autopsy. Bone trabeculae in the elderly displayed a higher modulus and nanohardness, signifying a decreased amount of energy that can be accommodated by the bone tissue during loading. Regression analysis revealed tha...t nearly 65% of variability in the bone matrix elastic modulus can be statistically explained by the changes in size of the matrix mineral grains. This study revealed that the bone trabeculae of elderly women express less elastic behavior at the material level, which makes them more vulnerable to unusual impact loads originating from a fall. The observed age-related structural and mechanical alteration at the bone material level adds new evidence for understanding why hip fractures are more frequent in elderly women. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.