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Bone. 2009 Aug;45(2):185-92. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2009.04.249. Epub 2009 May 3.

Spatial and temporal variations of mechanical properties and mineral content of the external callus during bone healing.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials, 14424 Potsdam, Germany. i.manjubala@mpikg.mpg.de


After bone fracture, various cellular activities lead to the formation of different tissue types, which form the basis for the process of secondary bone healing. Although these tissues have been quantified by histology, their material properties are not well understood. Thus, the aim of this study is to correlate the spatial and temporal variations in the mineral content and the nanoindentation modulus of the callus formed via intramembranous ossification over the course of bone healing. Midshaft tibial samples from a sheep osteotomy model at time points of 2, 3, 6 and 9 weeks were employed. PMMA embedded blocks were used for quantitative back scattered electron imaging and nanoindentation of the newly formed periosteal callus near the cortex. The resulting indentation modulus maps show the heterogeneity in the modulus in the selected regions of the callus. The indentation modulus of the embedded callus is about 6 GPa at the early stage. At later stages of mineralization, the average indentation modulus reaches 14 GPa. There is a slight decrease in average indentation modulus in regions distant to the cortex, probably due to remodelling of the peripheral callus. The spatial and temporal distribution of mineral content in the callus tissue also illustrates the ongoing remodelling process observed from histological analysis. Most interestingly the average indentation modulus, even at 9 weeks, remains as low as 13 GPa, which is roughly 60% of that for cortical sheep bone. The decreased indentation modulus in the callus compared to cortex is due to the lower average mineral content and may be perhaps also due to the properties of the organic matrix which might be different from normal bone.

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