It has been reported that the mineral crystals in long bones have their c-axis aligned with the bone axis, presumably because collagen fibrils in bone also align with the bone axis. However, the predominant collagen orientation in bone often does not appear to be aligned with the mineral crystals, especially in rat primary bone. We hypothesized that mineral orientation in bone is not necessarily related to collagen orientation. An acoustic microscope was used to measure elastic constants of mineralized tissues from rat, cow, monkey, and human bone, and mineralized turkey leg tendon (MTLT). Measurements were made before and after demineralization with 10% ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) or decollagenization with 7% sodium hypochlorite. The elastic anisotropy ratio (AR) was defined as the ratio of the elastic coefficient in the longitudinal direction to the elastic coefficient in the transverse direction. Anisotropy ratios of mineralized tissues were not affected by formalin fixation or plastic embedding. An evaluation of tissues from the different species showed that the AR after decollagenization was not significantly different (p > 0.4, analysis of variance) among the groups, while AR after demineralization varied from 1.04 (rat bone) to 1.51 (MTLT). There was no correlation between AR after demineralization and AR after decollagenization (r = 0.13, p = 0.5). This showed that the elastic anisotropy of collagen is more variable than mineral anisotropy in bone and MTLT. Another experiment showed that mineralization of turkey leg tendon changes the elasticity of the collagen matrix, making it less anisotropic. A final, prospective experiment was performed in which tibiae of rats were subjected to mechanical loading for 16 weeks. After 12 days, new periosteal woven bone was observed on the tibiae and, after 16 weeks, this new bone was consolidated and mineralized. Mineral in the newly formed woven bone was virtually isotropic (AR = 1.07) after 12 days of loading, then became more anisotropic (AR = 1.52) after 16 weeks of mechanical loading, as the mineral density of the new bone increased. This increase in anisotropy of bone mineral occurred even though the collagen matrix was woven and had no measureable fibril orientation. We conclude that (1) collagen anisotropy and mineral anisotropy are not necessarily correlated in mineralized tissues, (2) mineralization can affect the collagen matrix elasticity of mineralized tissues, and (3) an organized mineral structure can form in the absence of an organized collagen matrix.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine