• biomechanics;
  • bone;
  • rats;
  • mechanical loading;
  • osteogenesis


The anabolic effect of mechanical loading on bone tissue is modulated by loading frequency. The objective of this study was to characterize the new bone formation on the periosteal and endocortical surfaces of the ulnar diaphysis in adult, female rats in response to controlled dynamic loading and to examine the interactions between strain magnitude, loading frequency, and bone formation rate (BFR/BS) for frequencies ranging from 1 to 10 Hz. Cyclic, compressive loading was applied to the ulnas of 60 adult, female rats divided into 12 loading groups. Loading was applied for 360 cycles/day with peak loads ranging from 4.3 to 18N at frequencies of 1, 5, and 10 Hz. After 2 weeks of loading, bone formation on the periosteal and endocortical surfaces of the ulna was quantified using double-label histomorphometry on transverse sections obtained at the middiaphysis. Periosteal bone formation increased in a dose-response manner with peak load at each of the three loading frequencies tested. Loading frequency significantly affected the x intercepts and slopes of the peak strain versus BFR/BS (p < 0.001) and peak strain versus mineralizing surface (MS/BS; p < 0.001) curves. Periosteal osteogenesis was best predicted by a mathematical model that assumed: (1) bone cells are activated by fluid shear stresses and (2) that stiffness of the bone cells and the extracellular matrix near the cells increases at higher loading frequencies because of viscoelasticity. Consequently, mechanotransduction appears to involve a complex interaction between extracellular fluid forces and cellular mechanics.