Time course for bone formation with long-term external mechanical loading

D. M. Cullen, R. T. Smith, M. P. Akhter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Increased mechanical loading of bone with the rat tibia four-point bending device stimulates bone formation on periosteal and endocortical surfaces. With long-term loading cell activity diminishes, and it has been reported that early gains in bone size may reverse. This study examined the time course for bone cellular and structural response after 6, 12, and 18 wk of loading at 1,200-1,700 microstrain (με). Bone formation rates, measured by histomorphometry, were compared within groups, between loaded and contralateral nonloaded tibiae, and between weeks. Formation surface, mineral apposition rate, and bone formation rate on periosteal and endocortical surfaces were elevated after 6 wk of loading. By 12 wk of loading, periosteal and endocortical formation surface and endocortical mineral apposition rates were elevated. By 18 wk of loading, periosteal adaptation appeared complete, whereas endocortical mineral apposition rate remained elevated. No periosteal resorption was observed. Average thickness of new bone formed, from baseline to collection, was greater in loaded than nonloaded tibiae by week 6 and was maintained through week 18. Early increases in bone formation result in periosteal apposition of new bone that persists after formation ceases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1943-1948
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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