The role of collagen in determining bone mechanical properties

J Orthop Res. 2001 Nov;19(6):1021-6. doi: 10.1016/S0736-0266(01)00047-X.


The hypothesis of this study was that collagen denaturation would lead to a significant decrease in the toughness of bone, but has little effect on the stiffness of bone. Using a heating model, effects of collagen denaturation on the biomechanical properties of human cadaveric bone were examined. Prior to testing, bone specimens were heat treated at varied temperatures (37-200 degrees C) to induce different degrees of collagen denaturation. Collagen denaturation and mechanical properties of bone were determined using a selective digestion technique and three-point bending tests, respectively. The densities and weight fractions of the mineral and organic phases in bone also were determined. A repeated measures analysis of variance showed that heating had a significant effect on the biomechanical integrity of bone, corresponding to the degree of collagen denaturation. The results of this study indicate that the toughness and strength of bone decreases significantly with increasing collagen denaturation, whereas the elastic modulus of bone is almost constant irrespective of collagen denaturation. These results suggest that the collagen network plays an important role in the toughness of bone, but has little effect on the stiffness of bone, thereby supporting the hypothesis of this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Collagen / physiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Temperature


  • Collagen