Bone mineral is a major determinant of the mechanical resistance of bones. In bone structural units (BSUs), mineralization of osteoid tissue begins with a rapid primary mineralization followed by a secondary mineralization phase, i.e., a slow and gradual maturation of the mineral component leading to complete mineralization during an unknown period. The aim of this study was to determine the chronology of secondary bone mineralization in ewes, an animal model with a remodeling activity close to humans. Eighteen ewes received different fluorescent labels every 6 months to date the “age” of each labeled BSU. The degree of mineralization of bone (DMB) and Vickers microhardness were measured in labeled BSUs, while mineralization at the crystal level was assessed by Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIRM). During the first 6 months of mineralization, degree of mineralization and microhardness significantly increased. They then increased more slowly until at 30 months they reach their maximal values. This progression during secondary mineralization was associated with an improvement of both the maturation and the crystal perfection of the mineral part of bone matrix. Finally, secondary mineralization in BSUs is completed after a period of 30 months. This observation should be taken into account for understanding the effects of long-term treatments of bone diseases.
Keywords: Bone mineralization; Vickers microhardness; FTIRM; Degree of mineralization of bone; Ewe