Human iliac crest cancellous bone elastic modulus and hardness differ with bone formation rate per bone surface but not by existence of prevalent vertebral fracture

Xiang Wang, D. Sudhaker Rao, Leonardo Ajdelsztajn, Traci E. Ciarelli, Enrique J. Lavernia, David P Fyhrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


The goals of this study were to measure tissue-level elastic moduli and hardness of human cancellous bone using nanoindentation, and determine the relationship between nanoindentation results and previously measured bone histomorphometric variables and bone mineralization. Forty iliac crest biopsies were used in this study, which were collected from Caucasian females with vertebral fracture or from a normal healthy female Caucasian population. They were also categorized into two groups according to high or low bone formation rate per bone surface (BFR/BS). Thirty-two sites were randomly selected on each specimen for nanoindentation with a Berkovich diamond indenter. Two sets of elastic moduli and hardness were calculated using the continuous stiffness measurement method and the Oliver-Pharr method, respectively. Relationships between nanoindentation results and donor age, bone mineralization, and histomorphometric variables were examined. No difference in elastic moduli or hardness was observed between the normal and fracture groups. Significantly lower elastic moduli were observed in the high BFR/BS group. The elastic moduli and hardness measurements were not significantly correlated with the bone mineralization measured independently in a previous study. Linear correlation between elastic modulus and hardness calculated using the Oliver-Pharr method was not different between the normal and fracture groups or between the high and low BFR/BS groups. Nanoindentation hardness was a very good predictor of bone tissue elastic modulus for both normal and osteoporotic bone tissues. Osteoporosis may not change the relationship between bone tissue elastic modulus, bone hardness, and bone mineralization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008



  • Bone formation rate
  • Elastic modulus
  • Hardness
  • Histomorphometry
  • Iliac crest biopsy
  • Nanoindentation
  • Trabecular bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials

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