Measurement of microstructural strain in cortical bone

Daniel P. Nicolella, Lynda F. Bonewald, Donald E. Moravits, James Lankford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations


It is well known that mechanical factors affect bone remodeling such that increased mechanical demand results in net bone formation, whereas decreased demand results in net bone resorption. Current theories suggest that bone modeling and remodeling is controlled at the cellular level through signals mediated by osteocytes. The objective of this study was to investigate how macroscopically applied bone strains similar in magnitude to those that occur in vivo are manifest at the microscopic level in the bone matrix. Using a digital image correlation strain measurement technique, experimentally determined bone matrix strains around osteocyte lacuna resulting from macroscopic strains of approximately 2,000 microstrain (0.2%) reach levels of over 30,000 microstrain (3%) over fifteen times greater than the applied macroscopic strain. Strain patterns were highly heterogeneous and in some locations similar to observed microdamage around osteocyte lacuna indicating the resulting strains may represent the precursors to microdamage. This information may lead to a better understanding of how bone cells are affected by whole bone functional loading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Morphology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2005


  • Bone strain
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Microdamage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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