Secondary Osteon Structural Heterogeneity Between the Cranial and Caudal Cortices of the Proximal Humerus in White-tailed Deer

May 15, 2020 | Biology

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Jack Nguyen and Meir M. Barak

Cortical bone remodeling is an ongoing process triggered by microdamage, where osteoclasts resorb existing bone and osteoblasts deposit new bone in the form of secondary osteons (Haversian systems). Previous studies revealed regional variance in Haversian systems structure and possibly material, between opposite cortices of the same bone. As bone mechanical properties depend on tissue structure and material, it is predicted that bone mechanical properties will vary in accordance with structural and material regional heterogeneity. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the structure, mineral content and compressive stiffness of secondary bone from the cranial and caudal cortices of the white-tailed deer proximal humerus. We found significantly larger Haversian systems and canals in the cranial cortex but no significant difference in mineral content between the two cortices. Accordingly, we found no difference in compressive stiffness between the two cortices and thus our working hypothesis was rejected. Seeing that the deer humerus is curved and thus likely subjected to bending during habitual locomotion, we expect that similar to other curved long bones, the cranial cortex of the deer humerus is likely subjected primarily to tensile strains and the caudal cortex is likely subject primarily to compressive strains. Consequently, our results suggest that strain magnitude (larger in compression) and sign (compression vs. tension) affect differently the osteoclasts and osteoblasts in the BMU. Our results further suggest that osteoclasts are inhibited in regions of high compressive strains (creating smaller Haversian systems) while osteoblasts’ osteoid deposition and mineralization is not affected by strain magnitude and sign... Want to read more? Visit the Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB)​ Blog.

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