Cortical Histomorphometry of the Human Humerus During Ontogeny


Modeling and remodeling are two key determinants of human skeletal growth though little is known about the histomorphometry of cortical bone during ontogeny. In this study, we examined the density and geometric properties of primary and secondary osteons (osteon area and diameter, vascular canal area and diameter) in subperiosteal cortical bone from the human humerus (n = 84) between birth and age 18 years. Sections were removed from the anterior midshaft aspect of humeri from skeletons. Age-at-death was reconstructed using standard osteological techniques. Analyses revealed significant correlation between the histomorphometric variables and age. Higher densities of primary osteons occurred between infancy and 7 years of age but were almost completely replaced by secondary osteons after 14 years of age. The geometry of primary osteons was less clearly related to age. Secondary osteons were visible after 2 years of age and reached their greatest densities in the oldest individuals. Osteon size was positively but weakly influenced by age. Our data imply that modeling and remodeling are age-dependent processes that vary markedly from birth to adulthood in the human humerus.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rosie Pitfield.

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Conflict of interest

Rosie Pitfield, Patrick Mahonaey, and Justyna, J. Miszkiewicz declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

No permits were required for the present study as the skeletal samples are archaeological, and pre-date the Human Tissue Act. All sampling followed appropriate codes of ethics for research conducted on human skeletons from an archaeological context.

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This article does not contain information from any living human participants.

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Pitfield, R., Miszkiewicz, J.J. & Mahoney, P. Cortical Histomorphometry of the Human Humerus During Ontogeny. Calcif Tissue Int 101, 148–158 (2017).

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  • Primary osteon
  • Secondary osteon
  • Modeling
  • Remodeling
  • Humerus
  • Cortex