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Keywords:

  • biomechanics;
  • fracture;
  • osteoporosis;
  • mechanotransduction

Abstract: Bones serve several mechanical functions, including acoustic amplification in the middle ear, shielding vital organs from trauma, and serving as levers for muscles to contract against. Bone is a multiphase material made up of a tough collagenous matrix intermingled with rigid mineral crystals. The mineral gives bone its stiffness. Without sufficient mineralization, bones will plastically deform under load. Collagen provides toughness to bone making it less brittle so that it better resists fracture. Bone adapts to mechanical stresses largely by changing its size and shape, which are major determinants of its resistance to fracture. Tissue is added in regions of high mechanical stress providing an efficient means for improving bone strength. Experiments have shown that small additions of bone mineral density (BMD) (5–8%) caused by mechanical loading can improve bone strength by over 60% and extend bone fatigue life by 100-fold. Consequently, it is clear that bone tissue possesses a mechanosensing apparatus that directs osteogenesis to where it is most needed for improving bone strength. The biological processes involved in bone mechanotransduction are poorly understood and further investigation of the molecular mechanisms involved might uncover drug targets for osteoporosis. Several pathways are emerging from current research, including membrane ion channels, ATP signaling, second messengers, such as prostaglandins and nitric oxide, insulin-like growth factors, and Wnt signaling.