Intrabone and interbone variations and age-related changes in vertical and horizontal trabecular bone compressive strength (CS) were evaluated for loadbearing (vertebral) and nonloadbearing (iliac crest) trabecular bone from 30 normal individuals, 17 females and 13 males, aged 15–87 years. All had died suddenly. The vertebral bodies of Th₆, L₁, and L₃ and the right and left iliac crests were frozen at −20 °C immediately after removal. Cylindrical bone samples in the vertical and horizontal direction were taken from the frozen bone, and load-deformation curves were recorded by a materials testing machine.
For all vertebral bodies, the vertical CS was much larger than the horizontal CS (P < 0.01), whereas no significant difference was found for the iliac crests. The anisotropy expressed as an index of vertical to horizontal CS, therefore, was higher in the vertebrae than in the iliac crest. The anisotropy index (AI) increased with age in the vertebrae but not in the iliac crest (r = 0.56, P < 0.01). Age related, almost identical decreases in CS were observed in the vertebrae (vertical direction) (r = −0.81, P < 0.01) and in the iliac crest (horizontal direction) (r = −0.69, P < 0.01).
In spite of the pronounced differences in the architecture between the vertebral body and iliac trabecular bone, the vertical vertebral CS could be predicted from the horizontal iliac crest CS (r = 0.88, P < 0.01, SEE = 0.9 MPa). The vertical iliac crest CS showed a less significant correlation to the average vertical vertebral CS (r = 0.53, P < 0.05, SEE = 1.25 MPa).