Modeling Space Radiation Induced Bone Changes in Rat Femurs through Finite Element Analysis

Dale Johnson, Summer E. Lawrence, Eric W. Livingston, Robert D Hienz, Catherine Davis-Takacs, Anthony G. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As the duration of manned missions outside of the Earth's protective shielding increase, astronauts are at risk for exposure to space radiation. Various organ systems may be damaged due to exposure. This study investigates the bone strength changes using finite element modeling of Long Evans rats (n=85) subjected to graded, head-only proton (0, 10, 25, and 100 cGy, 150 MeV/n) and 28silicon (0, 10, 25, and 50 cGy, 300 MeV/n) radiation. The strength of the femoral neck will be examined due its clinical relevance to hip fractures. It has been shown in previous studies that bone mineral density was not reduced at the site of fracture. These findings question whether measurements of bone mineral density may be used to assess risk of hip fracture. The mechanisms leading to the irregular relationship between bone density and strength are still uncertain within literature and investigated to greater extent in clinical applications. Finite element analysis within this study simulated physiological loading of the femoral neck. No significant changes in femoral neck strength were found across doses of proton or 28silicon head-only radiation. Future work includes performing mechanical testing of the bone samples. Moving from mouse to larger animal models may also provide the increased lifespan for assessing the long-term outcomes of radiation exposure.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics

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