Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 79, Issue 6, pp 373–382

Cortical Bone Histomorphometry of the Iliac Crest in Normal Black and White South African Adults

Clinical Investigations


Fragility fracture rates in South African blacks (B) are lower than in whites (W). Since bone strength in many parts of the skeleton depends mainly on cortical bone, we examined iliac crest cortical bone from 97 B (49 male, 48 female) aged 22–80 and 111 W (60 male, 51 female) aged 21–84 histomorphometrically for differences between B and W and effects of age. B had thicker (P = 0.02) and less porous (P = 0.0007) cortices, fewer haversian (H) osteons (P < 0.0001), and greater endocortical (Ec) wall thickness (P < 0.0001). B also had thicker H (P = 0.0005) and Ec osteoid seams (P < 0.0001); greater Ec osteoid surface (P = 0.0005), Ec mineral apposition rate (P < 0.0001), and Ec bone formation rate (P = 0.038); and lower H (P = 0.0002) and Ec eroded surfaces (P = 0.029). Some of the differences were already present in subjects aged 21–30 years. Although cortical structure deteriorated with age in B and W, after age 40 Ec wall thickness declined only in W. Greater Ec mineral apposition and bone formation rates, i.e., greater osteoblast efficiency at the cellular and tissue levels, suggest better Ec bone preservation that may contribute to lower fragility fracture rates in B.


Histomorphometry Normal iliac cortex Blacks and whites Age dependence Sex difference 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MRC Mineral Metabolism Research UnitUniversity of the Witwatersrand, Chris Hani Baragwanath HospitalJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUniversity of the Witwatersrand, Medical SchoolJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Somerset WestSouth Africa

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