It is unknown how the degree of mineralization of bone in individual trabecular elements is related to the corresponding mechanical properties at the bone tissue level. Understanding this relationship is important for the comprehension of the mechanical behavior of bone at both the apparent and tissue level. The purpose of the present study was, therefore, to determine the tissue stiffness and degree of mineralization of the trabecular bone tissue and to establish a relationship between these two variables. A second goal was to assess the change in this relation during development. Mandibular condylar specimens of four fetal and four newborn pigs were used. The tissue stiffness was measured using nanoindentation. A pair of indents was made in the cores of 15 trabecular elements per specimen. Subsequently, the degree of mineralization of these locations was determined from microcomputed tomography. The mean tissue stiffness was 11.2 GPa (+/-0.5 GPa) in the fetal group and 12.0 GPa (+/-0.8 GPa) in the newborn group, which was not significantly different. The degree of mineralization of the fetal trabecular cores was 744 mg/cm3 (+/-28 mg/cm3). The one in the newborn bone measured 719 mg/cm(3) (+/-34 mg/cm3). Again, the difference was statistically insignificant. A significant relationship between tissue stiffness and degree of mineralization was obtained for fetal (R = 0.42, p < 0.001) and newborn (R = 0.72, p < 0.001) groups. It was concluded that woven bone tissue in fetal and newborn trabecular cores resembles adult trabecular bone in terms of tissue properties and is strongly correlated with degree of mineralization.
(c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2008.