Investigating histomorphometric relationships at the human femoral midshaft in a biomechanical context
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Cortical bone histomorphometry utilised in human and animal bone biology studies has demonstrated that osteon densities and their geometric properties may be in a relationship with biomechanical load application. Further research is required to investigate mutual links between bone histological variables to elucidate their usefulness in future biomechanical studies. Here, a series of correlations exploring bone biology relationships at the human midshaft femur were performed using a large sample. Mean intact, fragmentary and total osteon population densities, Haversian canal diameter and area, osteon area, as well as osteocyte lacunae density were measured along the sub-periosteal cortex in sections removed from the posterior midshaft aspect of modern human male (n = 233) and female (n = 217) femora (total n = 450). Parametric and non-parametric correlations between the histology variables were sought in the entire sample, as well as within age and sex sub-groups. Several significant positive and negative correlations explaining a large proportion of data variation were found. Haversian canal area, diameter, and osteon area were positively correlated. As the density of osteocyte lacunae increased, Haversian canals and osteons became smaller. As osteons increased in density, so did osteocyte lacunae, but Haversian canal and osteon area became smaller. Results were consistent across age and sex groups. Findings suggest that an increased rate of bone remodelling is associated with a decrease in geometrical properties of osteons. An increased density of osteocyte lacunae and osteons indicates the involvement of bone maintenance cells in remodelling potentially induced by mechanical stimuli. Future histomorphometry studies will benefit from examining multiple bone histology variables due to many mutual bone biology relationships that exist at the human midshaft femur.
KeywordsHistomorphometry Osteon Femur Biomechanics
I thank Dr. Patrick Mahoney for PhD research guidance and supervision, Prof. Kate Robson Brown and Dr. David Roberts for their helpful comments, Dr. Simon Tollington for assistance with R, and the School of Anthropology and Conservation (University of Kent, UK) for PhD funding and facilitating access to the skeletal collection. My thanks are extended to the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor, and an anonymous reviewer whose invaluable comments and suggestions improved this paper.
Conflict of interest
The author declares no conflict of interest.
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