Variation of the mineral density in cortical bone may serve to keep strain amplitudes within a physiological range


Within-bone variation in mineral density could be functional. A heterogeneous mineral-density distribution might serve to maintain habitual amplitudes of bone strain within a non-harmful, i.e., physiological range. Regions of a bone that would be strained the most on the basis of architecture alone might have a higher mineral density to make them more stiff and resistant to strain. We hypothesised that the cortical bone of the rabbit mandible contains such a functional distribution of mineral density. We thereby expected similar mineral-density patterns in the mandibles of different individuals due to the shared masticatory function. Secondly, we hypothesised that the highest mineral densities occur in mandibular regions predicted to be exposed to the largest amplitudes of strain—when taking into account bone architecture only. Mineral-density maps of the cortical bone of rabbit mandibles were obtained using micro-computed tomography (μCT). The μCT scans of two rabbits were converted into finite-element models (FEMs). To predict mandibular deformation during biting, these models were loaded by muscle forces and reaction forces. The forces acted on the condyles and on either the incisal or molar bite point. The FEMs were assigned a homogeneous material stiffness to calculate the strain amplitudes that would occur when only the architecture of the mandibular bone would be of influence. We found the cortical bone-mineral density patterns to be similar in all six mandibles. The mineral density of the corpus was higher than that of the ramus. A second consistent feature of the mandibular mineral-density distribution was that the medial ridge of the temporal-muscle insertion groove contained more mineral than its surrounding regions. The strain amplitudes calculated with the FEMs were variable and did not feature clear corpo-ramal differences. However, specific mandibular bone sites calculated to be exposed to the largest amplitudes of strain, including the medial ridge of the temporal-muscle insertion groove, did correspond with high-mineral-density regions. We conclude that, in the rabbit mandible, the heterogeneous mineral-density distribution might serve to suppress bone-strain amplitudes in regions architecturally susceptible to the largest deformations during loading

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Last time updated on 9/3/2017

This paper was published in NARCIS .

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