Bone formation induced by a novel form of mechanical loading on joint tissue.

Shigeo M. Tanaka, Hui B. Sun, Hiroki Yokota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Because of insufficient mechanical loading, exposure to weightlessness in space flight reduces bone mass. In order to maintain bone mass in a weightless condition, we investigated a novel form of mechanical loading--joint loading. Since some part of gravity-induced loading to our skeletal system is absorbed by viscoelastic deformation of joint tissues, we hypothesized that deformation of joint tissues would generate fluid flow in bone and stimulate bone formation in diaphyseal cortical bone. In order to test the hypothesis, we applied directly oscillatory loading to an elbow joint of mice and conducted bone histomorphometry on the diaphysis of ulnae. Using murine femurs ex vivo, streaming potentials were measured to evaluate a fluid flow induced by joint loading. Bone histomorphometry revealed that compared to no loading control, elbow loading increased mineralizing surface, mineral apposition rate, and bone formation rate 3.2-fold, 3.0-fold, and 7.9-fold, respectively. We demonstrated that joint loading generated a streaming potential in a medullar cavity of femurs. The results support a novel mechanism, in which joint loading stimulates effectively bone formation possibly by generating fluid flow, and suggest that a supportive attachment to joints, driven passively or actively, would be useful to maintain bone mass of astronauts during an exposure to weightlessness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-44
Number of pages4
JournalBiological sciences in space = Uchū seibutsu kagaku
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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