• endochondral growth;
  • biomechanics;
  • growth modulation;
  • stress;
  • Hueter-Volkmann law


Sustained mechanical loading alters longitudinal growth of bones, and this growth sensitivity to load has been implicated in progression of skeletal deformities during growth. The objective of this study was to quantify the relationship between altered growth and different magnitudes of sustained altered stress in a diverse set of nonhuman growth plates. The sensitivity of endochondral growth to differing magnitudes of sustained compression or distraction stress was measured in growth plates of three species of immature animals (rats, rabbits, calves) at two anatomical locations (caudal vertebra and proximal tibia) with two different ages of rats and rabbits. An external loading apparatus was applied for 8 days, and growth was measured as the distance between fluorescent markers administered 24 and 48 h prior to euthanasia. An apparently linear relationship between stress and percentage growth modulation (percent difference between loaded and control growth plates) was found, with distraction accelerating growth and compression slowing growth. The growth-rate sensitivity to stress was between 9.2 and 23.9% per 0.1 MPa for different growth plates and averaged 17.1% per 0.1 MPa. The growth-rate sensitivity to stress differed between vertebrae and the proximal tibia (15 and 18.6% per 0.1 MPa, respectively). The range of control growth rates of different growth plates was large (30 microns/day for rat vertebrae to 366 microns/day for rabbit proximal tibia). The relatively small differences in growth-rate sensitivity to stress for a diverse set of growth plates suggest that these results might be generalized to other growth plates, including human. These data may be applicable to planning the management of progressive deformities in patients having residual growth. © 2006 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 24:1327–1334, 2006