The equine radius is a useful subject for examining the adaptation of bone histology to loading because in life the anterior cortex is loaded almost entirely in tension, the posterior cortex in compression. The histology of the two cortices is correspondingly different, the osteones and the interstitial lamellae in the posterior cortex having a more transversely oriented fibre arrangement than those in the anterior cortex. Presumably as a result of this histological difference, the posterior cortex is stronger in compression than the anterior cortex; the anterior cortex is stronger in tension than the posterior cortex. We here use nanoindentation to examine how the Young's modulus of elasticity of secondary osteones and interstitial lamellae in the anterior and posterior cortices varied as a function of angle. The anterior osteones were stiffer than the posterior osteones when tested in the direction parallel to the bone's long axis, but became progressively relatively less stiff as the angle increased; at 90 degrees, they were less stiff than the posterior osteones. Although the interstitial lamellae were stiffer than their neighbouring osteones, the same relationship between anterior and posterior interstitial lamellae as a function of angle was found as for the osteones. The anisotropy of these Young's moduli determined by nanoindentation shows a close relationship with what was to be expected from the histological findings.

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