Compositional and mechanical properties of growing cortical bone tissue: a study of the human fibula

  • Lefevre Emmanuelle
  • Farlay Delphine
  • Barla Yohann
  • Subtil Fabien
  • Wolfram Uwe
  • Rizzo Sébastien
  • Baron Cécile
  • Zysset Philippe K
  • Pithioux Martine
  • Follet Hélène

  • Ageing
  • Bone
  • Bone quality and biomechanics


Human cortical bone contains two types of tissue: osteonal and interstitial tissue. Growing bone is not well-known in terms of its intrinsic material properties. To date, distinctions between the mechanical properties of osteonal and interstitial regions have not been investigated in juvenile bone and compared to adult bone in a combined dataset. In this work, cortical bone samples obtained from fibulae of 13 juveniles patients (4 to 18 years old) during corrective surgery and from 17 adult donors (50 to 95 years old) were analyzed. Microindentation was used to assess the mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix, quantitative microradiography was used to measure the degree of bone mineralization (DMB), and Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy was used to evaluate the physicochemical modifications of bone composition (organic versus mineral matrix). Juvenile and adult osteonal and interstitial regions were analyzed for DMB, crystallinity, mineral to organic matrix ratio, mineral maturity, collagen maturity, carbonation, indentation modulus, indicators of yield strain and tissue ductility using a mixed model. We found that the intrinsic properties of the juvenile bone were not all inferior to those of the adult bone. Mechanical properties were also differently explained in juvenile and adult groups. The study shows that different intrinsic properties should be used in case of juvenile bone investigation.