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J Biomech. 2001 Mar;34(3):299-308.

A mechanistic model for internal bone remodeling exhibits different dynamic responses in disuse and overload.

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Orthopaedic Research Laboratories, University of California, Davis, 4635 Second Avenue, Room 2000, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


Bone is a dynamic tissue which, through the process of bone remodeling in the mature skeleton, renews itself during normal function and adapts to mechanical loads. It is, therefore, important to understand the effect of remodeling on the mechanical function of bone, as well as the effect of the inherent time lag in the remodeling process. In this study, we develop a constitutive model for bone remodeling which includes a number of relevant mechanical and biological processes and use this model to address differences in the remodeling behavior as a volume element of bone is placed in disuse or overload. The remodeling parameters exhibited damped oscillatory behavior as the element was placed in disuse, with the amplitude of the oscillations increasing as the severity of disuse increased. In overload situations, the remodeling parameters exhibited critically sensitive behavior for loads beyond a threshold value. These results bear some correspondence to experimental findings, suggesting that the model may be useful when examining the importance of transient responses for bone in disuse, and for investigating the role fatigue damage removal plays in preventing or causing stress fractures. In addition, the constitutive algorithm is currently being employed in finite element simulations of bone adaptation to predict important features of the internal structure of the normal femur, as well as to study bone diseases and their treatment.

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