The adaption of the bony microstructure of the human glenoid cavity as a result of long-term biomechanical loading

  • Sebastian HoechelEmail author
  • Tibor Andrea Zwimpfer
  • Mireille Toranelli
  • Magdalena Müller-Gerbl
Original Article


Structural arrangements of the bony microstructure of a joint through adaptational processes are thought to be determined by the biomechanical demands and its changes. Pursuing this theory of “form follows the biomechanical function”, the load distribution of the glenoid cavity, as it is mirrored in its mineralization pattern, should link not only to its thickness distribution, but also will have an impact onto the trabecular network below. To prove and confirm this hypothesis, we analysed the mineral distribution in correlation to the subchondral bone plates thickness and the distribution of architectural parameters of the trabecular network below. Our findings clearly state an inhomogeneous but regular and reproducible mineral distribution pattern in respect to the biomechanical demands and a thickness of the subchondral bone plate which shows a significant correlation (78–93%). As for the trabecular network below, the distribution of the analysed parameters also revealed an inhomogeneous distribution with a regular pattern in correlation to the biomechanical impact. We found distinctive maxima of material distribution and stability (bone volume 79%, plate-like architecture 77%) situated below areas of high long-term load intake. With increasing depth, the trabecular network administers the expression of each structural parameter following the fact that the strain energy gets more and more evenly distributed and changes from a high degree of differentiation just beneath the SBP to a more equal distribution within the deeper areas. After all, the biomechanical situation of a joint directly influences the bony formation of the subchondral bone plate and the trabecular network below.


Glenoid cavity Subchondral bone plate Long-term load intake Trabecular architecture Micro-computed tomography 



We would like to thank the “Swiss National Science Foundation” for supporting our research with the Grant 316030_133802/1.

Author contributions

SH and MM-G designed the study. The acquisition of data was achieved by TAZ and MT. SH and TAZ were in charge of the analysis and interpretation process of drafting and revising the manuscript. All authors finally approved the submitted version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that could inappropriately influence their work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian Hoechel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tibor Andrea Zwimpfer
    • 1
  • Mireille Toranelli
    • 1
  • Magdalena Müller-Gerbl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedicine, Musculoskeletal ResearchUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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