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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Comparison of microstructural and mechanical properties of trabeculae in femoral head from osteoporosis patients with and without cartilage lesions: a case–control study

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Houchen Lv, Licheng Zhang, Fei Yang, Zhe Zhao, Qi Yao, Lihai Zhang, Peifu Tang
Wichtige Hinweise
Houchen Lv and Licheng Zhang contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

The authors met all the following conditions: (1) substantial contribution to the concept and design (HL, LHZ and PT), (2) acquisition of data (HL, LCZ and ZZ), analysis and interpretation of data, and drafting and revising the article (HL, FY, QY and PT). All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Degeneration of cartilage will change load distribution, affecting bone remodeling progress and trabecular structure and strength. However, in human primary osteoporosis, whether cartilage lesions would also affect properties beneath trabecular bone remains unknown. In this study, we explored the differences in local trabecular properties between osteoporosis patients with and without cartilage lesions.


Eighteen pairs of femoral heads with and without cartilage lesions in a weight-bearing area were collected from senile femoral neck fracture patients. The Mankin score and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content were used to evaluate the severity of the cartilage lesions. Micro-CT and compression tests were used to obtain structural and mechanical characteristics of each trabecular column. Multivariate linear regression was performed to evaluate the association between mechanical parameters and the degree of cartilage lesion.


In osteoporosis patients with cartilage lesions, the bone volume fraction (BV/TV) and trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) of the trabecular column were significantly higher than that of osteoporotic control patients (all P < 0.05), while the Young’s modulus was lower (P = 0.024). Multivariable linear regression indicated that in both groups, bone mineral density (BMD) significantly correlated with Young’s modulus (all P < 0.05). While in patients with cartilage lesion, GAG content was also correlated with Young’s modulus (standardized coefficient 0.443, P < 0.01).


Osteoporosis patients with cartilage lesions exhibited a weaker mechanical property of trabeculae. The intimate association of cartilage lesions and impairment of trabecular mechanical properties indicate that cartilage and trabeculae belong to an interdependent functional unit. Previously proposed adaptive mechanisms in osteoarthritis might also be applicable to the progression of osteoporosis.
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