Determinants of bone damage: An ex-vivo study on porcine vertebrae

Mohammad Mirzaali Mazandarani, Flavia Libonati, Davide Ferrario, Luca Rinaudo, Carmelo Messina, Fabio M. Ulivieri*, Bruno M. Cesana, Matteo Strano, Laura Vergani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Bone’s resistance to fracture depends on several factors, such as bone mass, microarchitecture, and tissue material properties. The clinical assessment of bone strength is generally performed by Dual-X Ray Photon Absorptiometry (DXA), measuring bone mineral density (BMD) and trabecular bone score (TBS). Although it is considered the major predictor of bone strength, BMD only accounts for about 70% of fragility fractures, while the remaining 30% could be described by bone “quality” impairment parameters, mainly related to tissue microarchitecture. The assessment of bone microarchitecture generally requires more invasive techniques, which are not applicable in routine clinical practice, or X-Ray based imaging techniques, requiring a longer post-processing. Another important aspect is the presence of local damage in the bony tissue that may also affect the prediction of bone strength and fracture risk. To provide a more comprehensive analysis of bone quality and quantity, and to assess the effect of damage, here we adopt a framework that includes clinical, morphological, and mechanical analyses, carried out by means of DXA, μCT and mechanical compressive testing, respectively. This study has been carried out on trabecular bones, taken from porcine trabecular vertebrae, for the similarity with human lumbar spine. This study confirms that no single method can provide a complete characterization of bone tissue, and the combination of complementary characterization techniques is required for an accurate and exhaustive description of bone status. BMD and TBS have shown to be complementary parameters to assess bone strength, the former assessing the bone quantity and resistance to damage, and the latter the bone quality and the presence of damage accumulation without being able to predict the risk of fracture.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0202210
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


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