Bone elasticity and ultrasound velocity are affected by subtle changes in the organic matrix

Shreefal S. Mehta, Orhan K. Öz, Peter P. Antich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The mechanical competence of bone can be studied through the measurement of the components of its material elasticity, a property which can vary both in magnitude and in dependence upon orientation (anisotropy). While it is known that the elasticity is largely determined by the mineral constituents of the bone matrix, it is nonetheless clear that it must be also dependent upon the remaining constituents of bone material. In this work, the influence of organic components on the elasticity is explored by altering specific constituents of the bone matrix to varying degrees. This study addresses two questions: first, are the resulting changes in elasticity strongly or weakly dependent upon direction, and second, are they substantially dependent upon the nature and magnitude of the induced matrix alteration? To answer these questions, we performed different chemical manipulations of the bone matrix and measured the changes in elasticity and velocity using the technique of ultrasound critical angle reflectometry. Altering the properties of the organic matrix resulted in substantial and complex changes in the elasticity of bone. The observed changes were strongly dependent upon direction, could not be explained by changes in density alone, and varied strongly with the specific chemical treatment of the matrix. Immersion in urea selectively affected protein components of the organic matrix and resulted in reversible changes in velocity and elasticity, while removal of collagen caused anisotropic decreases and removal of all organic matter caused a collapse of all components of the elasticity. In conclusion, this study confirms that the organic matrix exerts a profound influence on the elasticity and indicates that the measurement of elastic properties at multiple directions is necessary in the assessment of bone mechanical competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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