Characterization of intrinsic bone properties by nanoindentation: influence of dietary regime

The strength of bones is determined on one side by its architecture (geometry, porosity, cortical thickness, et.) and on the other side by its intrinsic properties (mechanical properties of the bone tissue). While the effect of architecture can be determined by macroscopic testing (compression tests), the intrinsic properties have to be investigated locally on a microscopic scale. The nanoindentation technique is a suitable tool for this type of characterization because it can measure mechanical properties on the microscale level. This technique has already been used to detect differences between cortical and trabecular bone, time dependent behavior and gradient in mechanical properties in various areas on the bone. Figure 1 - The Anton Paar Nanoindentation Tester NHT3 on the STeP 4 platform. 1 Introduction


Measurements of mechanical properties of bones present a major challenge in orthopedic medicine. This is because the mechanical properties of bone are determined on one side by its architectural variables such as geometry, porosity and cortical thickness and on the other side by the intrinsic properties of the bone tissue. While macroscopic testing methods for characterization of bone as a bulk material (compression, bending testing, etc.) are established, the intrinsic properties of the bone have to be probed on a microscopic level. Furthermore, macroscopic analysis may not be sensitive enough to identify the differences in local properties between two similar samples. Hence, micro- and nanoscale studies are desirable for resolved characterization of these complex materials. In addition, nanoscale methodologies are useful when the volume of material available is too small for larger scale analyses (for example bone tissue formation in critical-sized defects and rat models).

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