Bone Formation after Damaging In Vivo Fatigue Loading Results in Recovery of Whole-Bone Monotonic Strength and Increased Fatigue Life

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Bone has a remarkable capacity for self-repair. We previously reported a woven bone response after damaging in vivo fatigue loading of the rat ulna that led to a rapid recovery of wholebone strength. In the current study we asked: does the bone response in the 12 days after damaging fatigue loading result in a bone that has normal fatigue properties? The right forelimbs of 52 adult rats were subjected to a single bout of in vivo fatigue loading. Nonloaded left forelimbs were used as controls. Ulnar geometric properties were assessed by peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) and ex vivo mechanical properties were assessed by three-point bending. On day 0, ulnae from loaded forelimbs had a 15–20% reduction in stiffness and ultimate force versus controls (p<0.10), indicative of structural damage. On day 12, bone area at the midshaft was increased by 27% (p<0.001) and microCT scans revealed periosteal woven bone at this site. This bone response led to a recovery of the monotonic properties of loaded ulnae at day 12 versus control (stiffness, p=0.73; ultimate force, p=0.96). Importantly, fatigue testing ex vivo at day 12 demonstrated significantly greater fatigue life in in vivo loaded ulnae versus controls (p<0.001). Additionally, the slope of the fatigue-life curve was significantly less in loaded versus control ulnae (p<0.002). We conclude that woven bone “repair” of a bone damaged by fatigue loading restores whole-bone strength and enhances resistance to further damage by repetitive loading. © 2006 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 25:252–261, 2007

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