Anabolism. Low mechanical signals strengthen long bones

Nature. 2001 Aug 9;412(6847):603-4. doi: 10.1038/35088122.


Although the skeleton's adaptability to load-bearing has been recognized for over a century, the specific mechanical components responsible for strengthening it have not been identified. Here we show that after mechanically stimulating the hindlimbs of adult sheep on a daily basis for a year with 20-minute bursts of very-low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration, the density of the spongy (trabecular) bone in the proximal femur is significantly increased (by 34.2%) compared to controls. As the strain levels generated by this treatment are three orders of magnitude below those that damage bone tissue, this anabolic, non-invasive stimulus may have potential for treating skeletal conditions such as osteoporosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Female
  • Femur
  • Hindlimb
  • Sheep
  • Vibration
  • Weight-Bearing