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Quasistatic and dynamic nanomechanical properties of cancellous bone tissue relate to collagen content and organization

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2006

Eve Donnelly*
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853
Rebecca M. Williams
Department of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853
Seth A. Downs
Hysitron, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344
Michelle E. Dickinson
Hysitron, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minnesota 55344
Shefford P. Baker
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853
Marjolein C.H. van der Meulen
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853and Musculoskeletal Integrity Program, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York 14853
a) Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:
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Cancellous bone plays a crucial structural role in the skeleton, yet little is known about the microstructure-mechanical property relationships of the tissue at the microscale. Cancellous tissue is characterized by a microstructure consisting of layers interspaced with transition zones with different proportions of collagen and mineral. In this study, the quasistatic and dynamic mechanical properties of lamellar and interlamellar tissue in human vertebrae were assessed with nanoindentation, and the collagen content and organization were characterized with second harmonic generation microscopy. Lamellar tissue was 35% stiffer, 25% harder, and had a 13% lower loss tangent relative to interlamellar tissue. The stiff, hard lamellae corresponded to areas of highly ordered, collagen-rich material, with a relatively low loss tangent, whereas the compliant, soft interlamellar regions corresponded to areas of disordered or collagen-poor material. These data suggest an important role for collagen in the tissue-level mechanical properties of bone.

Copyright © Materials Research Society 2006

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