Elastic deformation of mineralized collagen fibrils: an equivalent inclusion based composite model

Ozan Akkus
Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 2005, 127 (3): 383-90
Mineralized collagen fibrils are the basic building blocks of bone tissue at the supramolecular level. Several disease states, manipulation of the expression of specific proteins involved in biomineralization, and treatment with different agents alter the extent of mineralization as well as the morphology of mineral crystals which in turn affect the mechanical function of bone tissue. An experimental assessment of mineralized fibers' mechanical properties is challenged by their small size, leaving analytical and computational models as a viable alternative for investigation of the fibril-level mechanical properties. In the current study the variation of the elastic stiffness tensor of mineralized collagen fibrils with changing mineral volume fraction and mineral aspect ratios was predicted via a micromechanical model. The partitioning of applied stresses between mineral and collagen phases is also predicted for normal and shear loading of fibrils. Model predictions resulted in transversely isotropic collagen fibrils in which the modulus along the longer axis of the fibril was the greatest. All the elastic moduli increased with increasing mineral volume fraction whereas Poisson's ratios decreased with the exception of v12 (=v21). The partitioning of applied stresses were such that the stresses acting on mineral crystals were about 1.5, 15, and 3 times greater than collagen stresses when fibrils were loaded transversely, longitudinally, and in shear, respectively. In the overall the predictions were such that: (a) greatest modulus along longer axis; (b) the greatest mineral/collagen stress ratio along the longer axis of collagen fibers (i.e., greatest relief of stresses acting on collagen); and (c) minimal lateral contraction when fibers are loaded along the longer axis. Overall, the pattern of mineralization as put forth in this model predicts a superior mechanical function along the longer axis of collagen fibers, the direction which is more likely to experience greater stresses.

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