Trabecular shear stress amplification and variability in human vertebral cancellous bone: Relationship with age, gender, spine level and trabecular architecture

Yener N. Yeni, Eric A. Zelman, George W. Divine, Do Gyoon Kim, David P Fyhrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Trabecular shear stress magnitude and variability have been implicated in damage formation and reduced bone strength associated with bone loss for human vertebral bone. This study addresses the issue of whether these parameters change with age, gender or anatomical location, and if so whether this is independent of bone mass. Additionally, 3D-stereology-based architectural parameters were examined in order to establish the relationship between stress distribution parameters and trabecular architecture. Eighty cancellous bone specimens were cored from the anterior region of thoracic 12 and donor-matched lumbar 1 vertebrae from a randomly selected population of 40 cadavers. The specimens were scanned at 21-μm voxel size using microcomputed tomography (μCT) and reconstructed at 50μm. Bone volume fraction (BV/TV), trabecular number (Tb.N), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th), trabecular separation (Tb.Sp), bone surface-to-volume ratio (BS/BV), degree of anisotropy (MIL1/MIL3), and connectivity density (-#Euler/Vol) were calculated directly from micro-CT images. Large-scale finite element models were constructed and superoinferior compressive loading was simulated. Apparent cancellous modulus (EFEM) was calculated. The average trabecular von Mises stress generated per uniaxial apparent stress (σ-VMapp) and coefficient of variation of trabecular von Mises stresses (COV) were calculated as measures of the magnitude and variability of shear stresses in the trabeculae. Mixed-models and regression were used for analysis. σ-VMapp and COV were not different between genders and vertebrae. Both σ-VMapp and COV increased with age accompanied by a decrease in BV/TV. Strong relationship of σ-VMapp with BV/TV was found whereas COV was strongly related to EFEM/(BV/TV). The results from T12 and L1 were not different and highly correlated with each other. The relationship of σ-VMapp with COV was observed to be different between males and females. This difference could not be explained by architectural parameters considered in this study. Our results support the relevance of trabecular shear stress amplification and variability in age-related vertebral bone fragility. The relationships found are expected to help understand the micro-mechanisms by which cancellous bone mass and mechanical properties are modulated through a collection of local stress parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-596
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Aging
  • Biomechanics
  • Mechanical loading
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stress/strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hematology


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