Rapid Establishment of Chemical and Mechanical Properties during Lamellar Bone Formation
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The development of prophylaxes and treatments of bone diseases that can effectively increase the strength of bone as a structure necessitates a better understanding of the time course by which chemical properties define the stiffness of the material during primary and secondary mineralization. It was hypothesized that these processes would be relatively slow in the actively growing skeleton. Seven-week-old Sprague-Dawley female rats (n = 8) were injected with multiple fluorochrome labels over a time span of 3 weeks and killed. Chemical and mechanical properties of the tibial mid-diaphysis were spatially characterized between the endocortical and periosteal surface by in situ infrared microspectroscopy and nanoindentation. The phosphate-to-protein ratio of bone 2–6 days old was 20% smaller at the periosteal surface and 22% smaller at the endocortical surface (P < 0.05 each) compared to older intracortical regions. The ratios of carbonate to protein, crystallinity, type A/type B carbonate, collagen cross-linking, and bone elastic modulus did not differ significantly between bone 2–6, 10–14, and 8–22 days old and intracortical regions. Intracortical properties of 10-week-old rats, except for the carbonate-to-protein ratio which was 23% smaller (P < 0.01), were not significantly different from intracortical matrix properties of young adult rats (5 months, n = 4). Spatially, the phosphate-to-protein ratio (R2 = 0.33) and the phosphate-to-carbonate ratio (R2 = 0.55) were significantly correlated with bone material stiffness, while the combination of all chemical parameters raised the R2 value to 0.83. These data indicate that lamellar bone has the ability to quickly establish its mechanical and chemical tissue properties during primary and secondary mineralization even when the skeleton experiences rapid growth.