The effects of the axial load variations on the seismic response of bridges isolated with friction pendulum systems (FPS) are investigated. A series of parametric time history non-linear analyses are performed for different bridge configurations, defined after an extensive investigation on typical existing cases. The influence of both horizontal and vertical components of the ground motion is considered. The behaviour of the pier- isolator-deck system is predicted using two analytical models characterised by hysteretic loops sensitive or insensitive to axial force variations, in order to compare the different responses. Level of axial force, maximum displacements and induced bending moment are investigated, as well as shear and torsion demand, caused by different shear actions acting on the isolator devices. A comparison between demand and resistance capacity of the bridge piers is performed, in order to investigate possible non-conservative approaches in the current design methods and to raise controversial issues on the subject.
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