, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 123-128
Date: 19 Dec 2006

The periosteum—a surface for all seasons

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Fetal limb buds removed in utero and grown ex vivo develop the shape of the proximal femur [1]. Thus, the structure needed to accommodate the stresses to be borne is assembled by instructions from the ancestorial genetic ‘blue print’. Although this seems obvious, it is considerably less obvious that the reverse also applies; the stresses imposed on bone determine its material composition, structural design and so its strength [2]. Bone has the ability to adapt—to modify its material composition and structural design to accommodate prevailing loads.

This remarkable feat is achieved by the cellular machinery of bone modeling and remodeling [3, 4]. Bone modeling, or construction, is the deposition of new bone on a quiescent surface resulting in changes in bone size and shape. Bone remodeling, or reconstruction, is the formation of bone within a previously excavated site on a bone surface.

Bone is perceived as solid and unchanging because emphasis has been on bone as a mineralized ‘hard’ tis ...

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00198-007-0329-9