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J Biomech. 2007;40(15):3404-11. Epub 2007 Jul 25.

High-frequency oscillatory motions enhance the simulated mechanical properties of non-weight bearing trabecular bone.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Psychology A Building, 3rd Floor, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2580, USA.


Extremely low-level oscillatory accelerations, applied without constraint, can increase bone formation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that high-frequency oscillations, applied in the absence of functional weight bearing, can be sensed by trabecular bone to produce a structure that is more efficient in sustaining applied loads. The left leg of anesthetized adult female mice (n=18) was subjected to high-frequency oscillations at 45 Hz, 0.6g for 20 min/day, 5 days/week for 3 weeks, while the contralateral leg served as an internal control. To remove the potential interference of the habitual strain environment with the imposed physical signal, the hindlimbs of these mice were chronically unloaded. In vivo microCT scans of the proximal metaphyseal region of the tibia were transformed into finite element meshes to evaluate trabecular and cortical mechanical properties. Simulated longitudinal compression tests showed that the short applications of high-frequency oscillations were sensed primarily by trabecular bone. At the end of the experimental period, apparent trabecular stiffness of the oscillated bones was 38% (p<0.001) greater than that of non-weight bearing controls. Simulated uniaxial loads applied to trabecular bone induced 21%, 52%, and 131% greater (p<0.05) median, peak compressive, and peak tensile longitudinal stresses in control than in stimulated bones. Non-weight bearing control bones were also characterized by greater transverse normal and shear stresses (77% and 54%, respectively, p<0.001) as well as 35% greater (p=0.03) longitudinal shear stresses. Compared to normal age-matched controls (n=18), oscillations were able to attenuate, but not fully prevent, the decline in trabecular mechanical properties associated with the removal of weight bearing. These data indicate not only that bone cells can sense low-level, high-frequency oscillatory accelerations, but also that they can orchestrate a structural response that produces a stiffer trabecular structure that may be less prone to fracture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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