The risk of fracture increases with age due to the decline of bone mass and bone quality. One of the age-related changes in bone quality occurs through the formation and accumulation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) due to non-enzymatic glycation (NEG). However as a number of other changes including increased porosity occur with age and affect bone fragility, the relative contribution of AGEs on the fracture resistance of aging bone is unknown. Using a high-resolution nonlinear finite element model that incorporate cohesive elements and micro-computed tomography-based 3d meshes, we investigated the contribution of AGEs and cortical porosity on the fracture toughness of human bone. The results show that NEG caused a 52% reduction in propagation fracture toughness (R-curve slope). The combined effects of porosity and AGEs resulted in an 88% reduction in propagation toughness. These findings are consistent with previous experimental results. The model captured the age-related changes in the R-curve toughening by incorporating bone quantity and bone quality changes, and these simulations demonstrate the ability of the cohesive models to account for the irreversible dynamic crack growth processes affected by the changes in post-yield material behavior. By decoupling the matrix-level effects due to NEG and intracortical porosity, we are able to directly determine the effects of NEG on fracture toughness. The outcome of this study suggests that it may be important to include the age-related changes in the material level properties by using finite element analysis towards the prediction of fracture risk.
Keywords: Non-enzymatic glycation; Fracture mechanics; Microcrack-based toughening; Finite element modeling; Cortical bone