Effects of the basic multicellular unit and lamellar thickness on osteonal fatigue life

George Pellegrino, Max Roman, J. Christopher Fritton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A remodeling cycle sets the size of the osteon and associated lamellae in the basic multicellular unit. Treatments and aging affect these micro-structural features. We previously demonstrated decreased fatigue life with an unexplained mechanism and decreased osteon size in cortical bone treated with high-dose bisphosphonate. Here, three finite element models were examined: type-1: a single osteon, as a homogeneous unit and with heterogeneous lamellae and interlamellae, type-2: a control, interstitial-only tissue and type-3: the osteon with cement line, set within the interstitial tissue. Models were loaded in simulated, sinusoidal bending fatigue. As osteon size was decreased, lamellar number and lamellar thickness were incrementally adjusted for each model. As hypothesized, lamellae within the larger type-1 models attained greater cycles to failure and the addition of an osteon to type-2 models (generating a type-3 model set) yielded increased fatigue life. However, as the osteon size was decreased, the potential for compressive damage nucleation was increased within the lamellae of the osteons versus the interstitium. Also, osteons with fewer, thicker lamellae displayed increased fatigue life. Osteonal microstructure plays a role in damage initiation location, especially when BMU size is smaller. Previous findings by us and others could partially be explained by this further understanding of increased probability for damage nucleation in smaller osteons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Jul 26 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


  • Interstitium
  • Lamella
  • Osteon
  • Remodeling

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