Current Osteoporosis Reports

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 205–215 | Cite as

The Role of Matrix Composition in the Mechanical Behavior of Bone

  • Mustafa Unal
  • Amy Creecy
  • Jeffry S. Nyman
Biomechanics (G Niebur and J Wallace, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Biomechanics


Purpose of Review

While thinning of the cortices or trabeculae weakens bone, age-related changes in matrix composition also lower fracture resistance. This review summarizes how the organic matrix, mineral phase, and water compartments influence the mechanical behavior of bone, thereby identifying characteristics important to fracture risk.

Recent Findings

In the synthesis of the organic matrix, tropocollagen experiences various post-translational modifications that facilitate a highly organized fibril of collagen I with a preferred orientation giving bone extensibility and several toughening mechanisms. Being a ceramic, mineral is brittle but increases the strength of bone as its content within the organic matrix increases. With time, hydroxyapatite-like crystals experience carbonate substitutions, the consequence of which remains to be understood. Water participates in hydrogen bonding with organic matrix and in electrostatic attractions with mineral phase, thereby providing stability to collagen-mineral interface and ductility to bone.


Clinical tools sensitive to age- and disease-related changes in matrix composition that the affect mechanical behavior of bone could potentially improve fracture risk assessment.


Mineral Type 1 collagen Bone quality Advanced glycation end-product Post-translation modifications Water 



We thank Dr. Mathilde Granke for developing the hierarchical figure of toughening mechanisms. Part of this material was supported by National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (AR067871). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or other funding agencies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jeffry Nyman reports grants for the following: NIH/NIAMS AR063157, NIH/NIAMS AR067871, VA BLR&D BX001018, and NSF 1068988, during the conduct of the study; non-financial support from ActiveLife Scientific, Inc.; and holds a patent, US Patent 8,923,948 System, pertaining to the measurement of bound water and pore water as an indicator of fracture risk (not licensed and no royalties received).

Amy Creecy reports grants from NIH/NIAMS and NIH/NIDDK, during the conduct of the study.

Mustafa Unal reports no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mustafa Unal
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Amy Creecy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jeffry S. Nyman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & RehabilitationVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Bone BiologyVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Vanderbilt Biophotonics CenterVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical EngineeringVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Vanderbilt Orthopedic InstituteMedical Center East, South TowerNashvilleUSA

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