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Large-scale microstructural simulation of load-adaptive bone remodeling in whole human vertebrae


Identification of individuals at risk of bone fractures remains challenging despite recent advances in bone strength assessment. In particular, the future degradation of the microstructure and load adaptation has been disregarded. Bone remodeling simulations have so far been restricted to small-volume samples. Here, we present a large-scale framework for predicting microstructural adaptation in whole human vertebrae. The load-adaptive bone remodeling simulations include estimations of appropriate bone loading of three load cases as boundary conditions with microfinite element analysis. Homeostatic adaptation of whole human vertebrae over a simulated period of 10 years is achieved with changes in bone volume fraction (BV/TV) of less than 5 %. Evaluation on subvolumes shows that simplifying boundary conditions reduces the ability of the system to maintain trabecular structures when keeping remodeling parameters unchanged. By rotating the loading direction, adaptation toward new loading conditions could be induced. This framework shows the possibility of using large-scale bone remodeling simulations toward a more accurate prediction of microstructural changes in whole human bones.

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The authors thank Dr. Friederike Schulte for her work on the \({\upmu }\hbox {CT}\) datasets and gratefully acknowledge funding from the European Union Osteoporotic Virtual Physiological Human Project (VPHOP FP7-ICT2008-223865) and the Swiss National Supercomputing Center in Lugano, Switzerland, for computational time (CSCS ID 5372).

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Correspondence to Ralph Müller.

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Badilatti, S.D., Christen, P., Levchuk, A. et al. Large-scale microstructural simulation of load-adaptive bone remodeling in whole human vertebrae. Biomech Model Mechanobiol 15, 83–95 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-015-0715-8

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  • Bone adaptation
  • Bone remodeling simulations
  • Human vertebra
  • Bone loading estimation
  • Microfinite element modeling