Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 67–78 | Cite as

Stress relaxation of swine growth plate in semi-confined compression: depth dependent tissue deformational behavior versus extracellular matrix composition and collagen fiber organization

  • Samira Amini
  • Farhad Mortazavi
  • Jun Sun
  • Martin Levesque
  • Caroline D. Hoemann
  • Isabelle VillemureEmail author
Original Paper


Mechanical environment is one of the regulating factors involved in the process of longitudinal bone growth. Non-physiological compressive loading can lead to infantile and juvenile musculoskeletal deformities particularly during growth spurt. We hypothesized that tissue mechanical behavior in sub-regions (reserve, proliferative and hypertrophic zones) of the growth plate is related to its collagen and proteoglycan content as well as its collagen fiber orientation. To characterize the strain distribution through growth plate thickness and to evaluate biochemical content and collagen fiber organization of the three histological zones of growth plate tissue. Distal ulnar growth plate samples (N = 29) from 4-week old pigs were analyzed histologically for collagen fiber organization (N = 7) or average zonal thickness (N = 8), or trimmed into the three average zones, based on the estimated thickness of each histological zone, for biochemical analysis of water, collagen and glycosaminoglycan content (N = 7). Other samples (N = 7) were tested in semi-confined compression under 10 % compressive strain. Digital images of the fluorescently labeled nuclei were concomitantly acquired by confocal microscopy before loading and after tissue relaxation. Strain fields were subsequently calculated using a custom-designed 2D digital image correlation algorithm. Depth-dependent compressive strain patterns and collagen content were observed. The proliferative and hypertrophic zone developed the highest axial and transverse strains, respectively, under compression compared to the reserve zone, in which the lowest axial and transverse strains arose. The collagen content per wet mass was significantly lower in the proliferative and hypertrophic zones compared to the reserve zone, and all three zones had similar glycosaminoglycan and water content.Polarized light microscopy showed that collagen fibers were mainly organized horizontally in the reserve zone and vertically aligned with the growth direction in the proliferative and hypertrophic zones. Higher strains were developed in growth plate areas (proliferative and hypertrophic) composed of lower collagen content and of vertical collagen fiber organization. The stiffer reserve zone, with its higher collagen content and collagen fibers oriented to restrain lateral expansion under compression, could play a greater role of mechanical support compared to the proliferative and hypertrophic zones, which could be more susceptible to be involved in an abnormal growth process.


Growth plate Mechanical behavior Biochemical content Collagen fiber orientation Polarized light microscopy Mechanobiology Confocal microscopy Compressive strain Digital image correlation (DIC) 



Digital image correlation


Region of interest


1,9-Dimethylmethylene blue






Sulfated glycosaminoglycan




Growth plate


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samira Amini
    • 1
    • 3
  • Farhad Mortazavi
    • 1
  • Jun Sun
    • 2
  • Martin Levesque
    • 1
  • Caroline D. Hoemann
    • 4
  • Isabelle Villemure
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringÉcole Polytechnique de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Piramal Canada Inc., Scientific and Hi-Technology ParkLavalCanada
  3. 3.CHU Sainte-Justine Research CenterMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of Chemical EngineeringÉcole Polytechnique de MontréalMontrealCanada

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