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Bone. 2002 Jul;31(1):1-7.

Age-related changes in the collagen network and toughness of bone.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA.

Erratum in

  • Bone. 2003 Jan;32(1):107.


The hypothesis of this study is that the mechanical integrity of the collagen network in bone deteriorates with age, and such adverse changes correlate with the decreased toughness of aged bone. To test the hypothesis, 30 human cadaveric femurs from donors ranging from 19 to 89 years of age were tested to determine the age-related changes in the mechanical properties of demineralized bone and fresh bone samples. Along with bone porosity, bone density, and weight fractions of the mineral and organic phases, collagen denaturation and concentrations of collagen cross-links (HP, hydroxylysylpyridinoline; LP, lysylpyridinoline; PE, pentosidine) were determined for these bone specimens as a function age. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that age-dependent changes were reflected in the decreased strength, work to fracture, and fracture toughness of bone; in the decreased strength, elastic modulus, and work to fracture of the collagen network; as well as in the increased concentration of pentosidine (a marker of nonenzymatic glycation) and increased bone porosity. Regression analyses of the measured parameters showed that the age-related decrease in work to fracture of bone (especially its postyield portion) correlated significantly with deterioration in the mechanical integrity of the collagen network. The results of this study indicate that the adverse changes in the collagen network occur as people age and such changes may lead to the decreased toughness of bone. Also, the results suggest that nonenzymatic glycation may be an important contributing factor causing changes in collagen and, consequently, leading to the age-related deterioration of bone quality.

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