Advances in our ability to assess fracture risk, predict implant success, and evaluate new therapies for bone metabolic and remodeling disorders depend on our understanding of anatomically specific measures of local tissue mechanical properties near and surrounding bone cells. Using nanoindentation, we have quantified elastic modulus and hardness of human lamellar bone tissue as a function of tissue microstructures and anatomic location. Cortical and trabecular bone specimens were obtained from the femoral neck and diaphysis, distal radius, and fifth lumbar vertebra of ten male subjects (aged 40–85 years). Tissue was tested under moist conditions at room temperature to a maximum depth of 500 nm with a loading rate of 10 nm/sec. Diaphyseal tissue was found to have greater elastic modulus and hardness than metaphyseal tissues for all microstructures, whereas interstitial elastic modulus and hardness did not differ significantly between metaphyses. Trabecular bone varied across locations, with the femoral neck having greater lamellar-level elastic modulus and hardness than the distal radius, which had greater properties than the fifth lumbar vertebra. Osteonal, interstitial, and primary lamellar tissues of compact bone had greater elastic moduli and hardnesses than trabecular bone when comparing within an anatomic location. Only femoral neck interstitial tissue had a greater elastic modulus than its osteonal counterpart, which suggests that microstructural distinctions can vary with anatomical location and may reflect differences in the average tissue age of cortical bone or mineral and collagen organization.
Keywords: Bone; Mechanical properties; Elasticity; Hardness; Lamellae; Nanoindentation