Mechanical loading, damping, and load-driven bone formation in mouse tibiae

Todd Dodge, Mina Wanis, Ramez Ayoub, Liming Zhao, Nelson B. Watts, Amit Bhattacharya, Ozan Akkus, Alexander Robling, Hiroki Yokota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Mechanical loads play a pivotal role in the growth and maintenance of bone and joints. Although loading can activate anabolic genes and induce bone remodeling, damping is essential for preventing traumatic bone injury and fracture. In this study we investigated the damping capacity of bone, joint tissue, muscle, and skin using a mouse hindlimb model of enhanced loading in conjunction with finite element modeling to model bone curvature. Our hypothesis was that loads were primarily absorbed by the joints and muscle tissue, but that bone also contributed to damping through its compression and natural bending. To test this hypothesis, fresh mouse distal lower limb segments were cyclically loaded in axial compression in sequential bouts, with each subsequent bout having less surrounding tissue. A finite element model was generated to model effects of bone curvature in silico. Two damping-related parameters (phase shift angle and energy loss) were determined from the output of the loading experiments. Interestingly, the experimental results revealed that the knee joint contributed to the largest portion of the damping capacity of the limb, and bone itself accounted for approximately 38% of the total phase shift angle. Computational results showed that normal bone curvature enhanced the damping capacity of the bone by approximately 40%, and the damping effect grew at an accelerated pace as curvature was increased. Although structural curvature reduces critical loads for buckling in beam theory, evolution apparently favors maintaining curvature in the tibia. Histomorphometric analysis of the tibia revealed that in response to axial loading, bone formation was significantly enhanced in the regions that were predicted to receive a curvature-induced bending moment. These results suggest that in addition to bone's compressive damping capacity, surrounding tissues, as well as naturally-occurring bone curvature, also contribute to mechanical damping, which may ultimately affect bone remodeling and bone quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-818
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Bone remodeling
  • Damping
  • Phase shift angle
  • Tibia loading
  • Ulna loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology

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    Dodge, T., Wanis, M., Ayoub, R., Zhao, L., Watts, N. B., Bhattacharya, A., Akkus, O., Robling, A., & Yokota, H. (2012). Mechanical loading, damping, and load-driven bone formation in mouse tibiae. Bone, 51(4), 810-818.