Relevance of collagen piezoelectricity to "Wolff's Law": A critical review
Author(s)Ahn, Andrew C.; Grodzinsky, Alan J.
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According to “Wolff's Law”, bone is deposited and reinforced at areas of greatest stress. From a clinical perspective, this “law” is supported by the strong association between bone density and physical activity. From a mechanistic standpoint, however, the law presents a challenge to scientists seeking to understand how osteocytes and osteoblasts sense the mechanical load. In the 1960s, collagen piezoelectricity was invoked as a potential mechanism by which osteocytes could detect areas of greater stress but piezoelectricity diminished in importance as more compelling mechanisms, such as streaming potential, were identified. In addition, accumulating evidence for the role of fluid-related shear stress in osteocyte's mechanosensory function has made piezoelectricity seemingly more obsolete in bone physiology. This review critically evaluates the role of collagen piezoelectricity (if any) in Wolff's Law—specifically, the evidence regarding its involvement in strain-generated potentials, existing alternate mechanisms, the present understanding of bone mechanosensation, and whether piezoelectricity serves an influential role within the context of this newly proposed mechanism. In addition to reviewing the literature, this review generates several hypotheses and proposes future research to fully address the relevance of piezoelectricity in bone physiology.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Biomedical Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biological Engineering
Medical Engineering and Physics
Ahn, Andrew C., and Alan J. Grodzinsky. “Relevance of collagen piezoelectricity to ‘Wolff’s Law’: A critical review.” Medical Engineering & Physics 31 (2009): 733-741. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.
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