Bone Adaptation in Healthy Women

Healthy bone adapts to best resist its habitual mechanical loading environment. When the applied daily mechanical stimulus drops below some minimum threshold, bone loss occurs. Similarly, when the stimulus exceeds some threshold, bone will adapt to become stronger through a combination of increased bone mass and changes to bone geometry that are associated with increased mechanical strength. Our long term goal is to understand how the bone structure and strength in humans are improved in response to physical stimuli. This knowledge is essential for optimizing exercise interventions to prevent fractures by improving bone health. Our research uses experimental data, image analysis, and subject-specific computational models to accurately quantify:

  • the mechanical stimulus applied to bone during specific and functional activities
  • three-dimensional changes to bone mass, density, and shape that occur over time
  • the mechanical consequences of bone adaptation
(left) High resolution CT image of a subject's distal radius. (center) Finite element model showing strain distribution inside the radius during compressive loading. (right) multi-scale model showing strain within the distal radius microstructure during compressive loading.

(left) High resolution CT image of a subject’s distal radius. (center) Finite element model showing strain distribution inside the radius during compressive loading. (right) multi-scale model showing strain within the distal radius microstructure during compressive loading.

Our current NIH-funded investigation (R01 AR063691) focuses on:

  • Defining a quantitative input/output relationship between mechanical loading environment and bone adaptation in a healthy skeletal system using a human in vivo distal radius loading model
  • Exploring the individual effects of strain magnitude and strain rate on bone adaptation
  • Understanding how factors such as physical activity and diet influence bone adaptation