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Anat Rec. 1999 May 1;255(1):69-77.

Hard fallow deer antler: a living bone till antler casting?

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1
Department of Orthopedics, Clinical Research, University of Goettingen, Germany. hrolf@uni-goettingen.de

Abstract

Deer antlers are the only mammalian bone structures which regenerate completely every year. Once developed, antlers are cleaned of the velvet-like skin. Presently it is believed that due to velvet shedding the blood supply is interrupted in the solidifying antler bone. Histological examinations were made on different parts of fallow deer antlers investigated from the time of velvet shedding till the antler casting. The present study on hard (polished) antlers revealed living bone with regions presenting living osteocytes, active osteoblasts, osteoid seams and even early stages of trabecular microcallus formation, thus indicating to a continuous bone remodeling. A well developed vascular system was found despite the presence of hard antler bone. The pedicle bone exhibits a rich supply of capillaries and vessels connected to the spongy core of the main branch and the compact bone as well. There is evidence that hard fallow deer antlers possess a functioning vascular system that "keeps the antler moist" resulting in a high impact resistance when fights are most frequent. As late as 3 weeks prior to antler casting a large number of living cells were discovered within the antler core. As we have no doubt that parts of the polished fallow deer antler represent a living bone, we have concluded that a sufficient blood supply of the antler core is maintained almost till the time of antler casting by vessels passing through the antler base.

PMID:
10321994
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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