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As bone is used in a dynamic mechanical environment, understanding the structural origins of its time-dependent mechanical behaviour - and the alterations in metabolic bone disease - is of interest. However, at the scale of the mineralized fibrillar matrix (nanometre-level), the nature of the strain-rate dependent mechanics is incompletely understood. Here, we investigate the fibrillar- and mineral-deformation behaviour in a murine model of Cushing's syndrome, used to understand steroid induced osteoporosis, using synchrotron small- and wide-angle scattering/diffraction combined with in situ tensile testing at three strain rates ranging from 10-4 to 10-1 s-1. We find that the effective fibril- and mineral-modulus and fibrillar-reorientation show no significant increase with strain-rate in osteoporotic bone, but increase significantly in normal (wild-type) bone. By applying a fibril-lamellar two-level structural model of bone matrix deformation to fit the results, we obtain indications that altered collagen-mineral interactions at the nanoscale - along with altered fibrillar orientation distributions - may be the underlying reason for this altered strain-rate sensitivity. Our results suggest that an altered strain-rate sensitivity of the bone matrix in osteoporosis may be one of the contributing factors to reduced mechanical competence in such metabolic bone disorders, and that increasing this sensitivity may improve biomechanical performance.

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Glucocorticoid induced osteoporosis, Multiscale, Nanoscale deformation mechanisms, Synchrotron X-ray nanomechanical imaging, mechanical modelling