The Effect of Age on Material Properties

Matthew R. Allen, David B. Burr, Charles H. Turner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Aging leads to increased skeletal fragility in both men and women, although the rapid changes in men begin about 20 years later than comparable changes in women. Increasing fragility with age is a multifactorial process, resulting from changes in both bone structure and the intrinsic properties of the bone material. The most easily measured age-related structural change is a loss of bone mass, which results in increased cortical bone porosity and loss of trabecular connectivity. In addition to the loss of bone mass, the bone that remains has altered material properties that contribute to increased bone fragility. The most prominent aging-related change to bone material is reduced toughness (increased brittleness) that results from changes to cross-linking of the collagen matrix and the accumulation of microdamage. These aging-related changes make the skeleton less able to withstand the impact forces that are generated when an individual falls, independent of how much bone there is and, therefore, increase the risk of fracture. As the changes to material properties-mineralization, collagen, microdamage-each have differential effects on overall bone mechanics, it is important to explore the nature of these changes as a basis for assessing the reasons for the increased risk of fracture in older adults. It is important to note that the limited amount of data concerning these material properties, as well as biomechanical properties as a whole, make it unclear whether men and women experience similar age-related changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOsteoporosis in Men
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780123746023
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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    Allen, M. R., Burr, D. B., & Turner, C. H. (2010). The Effect of Age on Material Properties. In Osteoporosis in Men (pp. 221-232). Elsevier Inc..