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Secondary osteon variants and remodeling in human bone

Cooke, Karen M., Mahoney, Patrick, Miszkiewicz, Justyna J. (2021) Secondary osteon variants and remodeling in human bone. The Anatomical Record, 305 (6). pp. 1299-1315. ISSN 1932-8486. E-ISSN 1932-8494. (doi:10.1002/ar.24646) (KAR id:90329)


Histomorphometric analysis of human cortical bone has documented the occurrence of secondary osteon variants. These include drifting osteons which form tails as they move erratically through the cortex and Type II osteons which show partial resorption and redeposition within the cement line of the osteon. Little is known about the biological significance of these variants. Prior studies suggested correlations with age, biomechanics, diet, and mineral homeostasis. No study has yet tested for osteon variant associations with static measures of bone remodeling. In this study, thin sections (n = 112) of the posterior femur representing a late English Medieval adult human osteological collection, subdivided by age, sex, and socio-economic status, were examined to determine whether remodeling indicators reconstructed from osteon parameters (area, diameter, area ratios) and densities differed between categories of presence or absence of Type II and drifting osteon variants. Of the 112 sections, 33 presented with Type II osteons, and 38 had drifting osteons. Sporadic statistically significant results were identified. Haversian canal:osteon area ratio differed (p =  0.017) with Type II osteon presence, Type II osteons were more prevalent in males than females (p =  0.048), and drifting osteons were associated with smaller osteon (p =  0.049) and Haversian canal area (p =  0.05). These results may be explained through some biological (sex) and social (status) processes such as a period of physiological recovery (e.g., following lactation, malnutrition). However, the general lack of consistent relationships between osteon variants and remodeling indicators suggests they occur as a result of natural variation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/ar.24646
Uncontrolled keywords: cortical bone; drifting osteon; histology; type II osteon
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Patrick Mahoney
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2021 11:09 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2022 10:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Mahoney, Patrick.

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Miszkiewicz, Justyna J..

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