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J Biomech. 2013 Jun 21;46(10):1597-603. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.04.023. Epub 2013 May 21.

Spatial periodicity in growth plate shear mechanical properties is disrupted by vitamin D deficiency.

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  • 1Sibley School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.


The growth plate is a highly organized section of cartilage in the long bones of growing children that is susceptible to mechanical failure as well as structural and functional disruption caused by a dietary deficiency of vitamin D. The shear mechanical properties of the proximal tibial growth plate of rats raised either on normal or vitamin D and calcium deficient diets were measured. A sinusoidal oscillating shear load was applied to small excised growth plate specimens perpendicular to the direction of growth while imaging the deformation in real time with a fast confocal microscope. Local deformations and shear strains were quantified using image correlation. The proliferative zone of the growth plate bores the majority of the shear strain and the resting, hypertrophic and calcification zones deformed less. Surprisingly, we regularly observed discontinuous deformations in the proliferative zone in both groups that resembled cell columns sliding past one another in the direction of growth. These discontinuities manifested as regions of concentrated longitudinal shear strain. Furthermore, these shear strain concentrations were spaced evenly in the proliferative zone and the spacing between them was similar across growth plate regions and across control specimens. In contrast to the healthy controls, the vitamin D deficient growth plate exhibited larger variations in the size and orientation of cellular columns in the proliferative and hypertrophic zones. High strains were observed between columns, much as they were in the controls. However, the regular spacing of shear strain concentrations was not preserved, echoing the observation of decreased structural organization.

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