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J Biomech. 2012 Aug 31;45(13):2222-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.06.020. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Fluid shear stress in trabecular bone marrow due to low-magnitude high-frequency vibration.

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Tissue Mechanics Laboratory, Bioengineering Graduate Program, University of Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.


Low-magnitude high-frequency (LMHF) loading has recently received attention for its anabolic effect on bone. The mechanism of transmission of the anabolic signal is not fully understood, but evidence indicates that it is not dependent on bone matrix strain. One possible source of signaling is mechanostimulation of the cells in the bone marrow. We hypothesized that the magnitude of the fluid shear stress in the marrow during LMHF loading is in the mechanostimulatory range. As such, the goal of this study was to determine the range of shear stress in the marrow during LMHF vibration. The shear stress was estimated from computational models, and its dependence on bone density, architecture, permeability, marrow viscosity, vibration amplitude and vibration frequency were examined. Three-dimensional finite element models of five trabecular bone samples from different anatomic sites were constructed, and a sinusoidal velocity profile was applied to the models. In human bone models during axial vibration at an amplitude of 1 g, more than 75% of the marrow experienced shear stress greater than 0.5Pa. In comparison, in vitro studies indicate that fluid induced shear stress in the range of 0.5 to 2.0Pa is anabolic to a variety of cells in the marrow. Shear stress at the bone-marrow interface was as high as 5.0Pa. Thus, osteoblasts and bone lining cells that are thought to reside on the endosteal surfaces may experience very high shear stress during LMHF loading. However, a more complete understanding of the location of the various cell populations in the marrow is needed to quantify the effects on specific cell types. This study suggests the shear stress within bone marrow in real trabecular architecture during LMHF vibration could provide the mechanical signal to marrow cells that leads to bone anabolism.

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