Modeling and remodeling in a developing artiodactyl calcaneus: A model for evaluating Frost's mechanostat hypothesis and its corollaries

John G. Skedros, Mark W. Mason, Roy D. Bloebaum

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60 Scopus citations


The artiodactyl (mule deer) calcaneus was examined for structural and material features that represent regional differences in cortical bone modeling and remodeling activities. Cortical thickness, resorption and formation surfaces, mineral content (percent ash), and microstructure were quantified between and within skeletally immature and mature bones. These features were examined to see if they are consistent with predictions of Frost's Mechanostat paradigm of mechanically induced bone adaptation in a maturing "tension/compression" bone (Frost, 1990a,b, Anat Rec 226:403-413, 414-422). Consistent with Frost's hypothesis that surface modeling activities differ between the "compression" (cranial) and "tension" (caudal) cortices, the elliptical cross-section of the calcaneal diaphysis becomes more elongated in the direction of bending as a result of preferential (> 95%) increase in thickness of the compression cortex. Regional differences in mineral content and population densities of new remodeling events (NREs = resorption spaces plus newly forming secondary osteons) support Frost's hypothesis that intracortical remodeling activities differ between the opposing cortices: 1.) in immature and mature bones, the compression cortex had attained a level of mineralization averaging 8.9 and 6.8% greater (P < 0.001), respectively, than that of the tension cortex, and 2.) there are on average 350 to 400% greater population densities of NREs in the tension cortices of both age groups (P < 0.0003). No significant differences in cortical thickness, mineral content, porosity, or NREs were found between medial and lateral cortices of the skeletally mature bones, suggesting that no modeling or remodeling differences exist along a theoretical neutral axis. However, in mature bones these cortices differed considerably in secondary osteon cross-sectional area and population density. Consistent with Frost's hypothesis, remodeling in the compression cortex produced bone with microstructural organization that differs from the tension cortex. However, the increased remodeling activity of the tension cortex does not appear to be related to a postulated low-strain environment. Although most findings are consistent with predictions of Frost's Mechanostat paradigm, there are several notable inconsistencies. Additional studies are needed to elucidate the nature of the mechanisms that govern the modeling and remodeling activities that produce and maintain normal bone. It is proposed that the artiodactyl calcaneus will provide a useful experimental model for these studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-185
Number of pages19
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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