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Anat Rec. 1999 Oct 15;257(5):174-80.

Coincident development of sesamoid bones and clues to their evolution.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, USA.


Sesamoid bones form within tendons in regions that wrap around bony prominences. They are common in humans but variable in number. Sesamoid development is mediated epigenetically by local mechanical forces associated with skeletal geometry, posture, and muscular activity. In this article we review the literature on sesamoids and explore the question of genetic control of sesamoid development. Examination of radiographs of 112 people demonstrated that the relatively infrequent appearances of the fabella (in the lateral gastrocnemius tendon of the knee) and os peroneum (in the peroneus longus tendon of the foot) are related within individuals (P < 0.01). This finding suggests that the tendency to form sesamoids may be linked to intrinsic genetic factors. Evolutionary character analyses suggest that the formation of these sesamoids in humans may be a consequence of phylogeny. These observations indicate that variations of intrinsic factors may interact with extrinsic mechanobiological factors to influence sesamoid development and evolution.

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