It is widely believed that rapid growth of the human brain generates tensile strain in cranial sutures, and that this strain influences the rate of bone deposition at the sutural margins during development. We developed general theoretical techniques for estimating sutural bone deposition rate and strain magnitude during mammalian cranial development. A geometry-based analysis was developed to estimate sutural bone deposition rate. A quasi-static stress analysis was developed to estimate sutural strain magnitude. We applied these techniques to the special case of normal cranial development in humans. The results of the bone deposition rate analysis indicate that average human sutural bone deposition rate is on the order of 100 μm/day at 1 month of age and decreases in an approximately exponential fashion during the first 4 years of life. The results of the strain analysis indicate that sutural strain magnitude is highly dependent on the assumed stiffness of the sutures, with estimated strain at 1 month of age ranging from approximately 20 to 400 microstrain. Regardless of the assumed stiffness of the sutures, the results indicate that sutural strain magnitude is small and decreases in an approximately exponential fashion during the first 4 years of life. The finding that both sutural bone deposition rate and strain magnitude decrease with increasing age is consistent with quasi-static tensile strain in sutures influencing sutural osteoblast activity in a dose-dependent manner. However, the small magnitude of the predicted strains suggests that tissue level strains in sutures may be too small to directly influence osteoblast biology. In light of these results, we suggest other biomechanical mechanisms, such as a tension-induced angiogenic environment in the sutures or mechanotransduction in the underlying dura mater, through which tension across sutures may regulate the rate of bone deposition in sutures.
- Craniofacial development
- Growth-generated strain
- Skeletal development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism