Lamellar bone: structure-function relations

J Struct Biol. 1999 Jun 30;126(3):241-55. doi: 10.1006/jsbi.1999.4107.


The term "bone" refers to a family of materials that have complex hierarchically organized structures. These structures are primarily adapted to the variety of mechanical functions that bone fulfills. Here we review the structure-mechanical relations of one bone structural type, lamellar bone. This is the most abundant type in many mammals, including humans. A lamellar unit is composed of five sublayers. Each sublayer is an array of aligned mineralized collagen fibrils. The orientations of these arrays differ in each sublayer with respect to both collagen fibril axes and crystal layers, such that a complex rotated plywood-like structure is formed. Specific functions for lamellar bone, as opposed to the other bone types, could not be identified. It is therefore proposed that the lamellar structure is multifunctional-the "concrete" of the bone family of materials. Experimentally measured mechanical properties of lamellar bone demonstrate a clear-cut anisotropy with respect to the axis direction of long bones. A comparison of the elastic and ultimate properties of parallel arrays of lamellar units formed in primary bone with cylindrically shaped osteonal structures in secondary formed bone shows that most of the intrinsic mechanical properties are built into the lamellar structure. The major advantages of osteonal bone are its fracture properties. Mathematical modeling of the elastic properties based on the lamellar structure and using a rule-of-mixtures approach can closely simulate the measured mechanical properties, providing greater insight into the structure-mechanical relations of lamellar bone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / ultrastructure*
  • Collagen / chemistry
  • Fractures, Bone / pathology
  • Fractures, Bone / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Papio
  • Surface Properties


  • Collagen