Within the context of improving knowledge of the structure–function relations for trabecular bone for cyclic loading, we hypothesized that the S–N curve for cyclic compressive loading of trabecular bone, after accounting for differences in monotonic strength behavior, does not depend on either site or species. Thirty-five cores of fresh-frozen elderly human vertebral trabecular bone, harvested from nine donors (mean±S.D., age=74±17 years), were biomechanically tested in compression at σ/E₀ values (ratio of applied stress to pre-fatigue elastic modulus) ranging from 0.0026 to 0.0070, and compared against literature data (J. Biomech. Eng. 120 (1998) 647–654) for young bovine tibial trabecular bone (n=37). As reported for the bovine bone, the number of cycles to failure for the human vertebral bone was related to σ/E₀ by a power-law relation (r²=0.54, n=35). Quantitative comparison of these data against those reported for the bovine bone supported our hypothesis. Namely, when the differences in mean monotonic yield strain between the two types of bone were accounted for, a single S–N curve worked well for the pooled data (r²=0.75, n=72). Since elderly human vertebral and young bovine tibial trabecular bone represent two very different types of trabecular bone in terms of volume fraction and architecture, these findings suggest that the dominant failure mechanisms in trabecular bone for cyclic loading occur at the ultrastructural level.
Keywords: Biomechanics; Cancellous bone; Cyclic loading; Osteoporosis; Bone strength