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Bone. 2000 Oct;27(4):487-94.

Structural and cellular changes during bone growth in healthy children.

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Division of Endocrinology and Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


Normal postnatal bone growth is essential for the health of adults as well as children but has never been studied histologically in human subjects. Accordingly, we analyzed iliac bone histomorphometric data from 58 healthy white subjects, aged 1.5-23 years, 33 females and 25 males, of whom 48 had undergone double tetracycline labeling. The results were compared with similar data from 109 healthy white women, aged 20-76 years, including both young adult reference ranges and regressions on age. There was a significant increase with age in core width, with corresponding increases in both cortical width and cancellous width. In cancellous bone there were increases in bone volume and trabecular thickness, but not trabecular number, wall thickness, interstitial thickness, and inferred erosion depth. Mineral apposition rates declined on the periosteal envelope and on all subdivisions of the endosteal envelope. Because of the concomitant increase in wall thickness, active osteoblast lifespan increased substantially. Bone formation rate was almost eight times higher on the outer than on the inner periosteum, and more than four times higher on the inner than on the outer endocortical surface. On the cancellous surface, bone formation rate and activation frequency declined in accordance with a fifth order polynomial that matched previously published biochemical indices of bone turnover. The analysis suggested the following conclusions: (1) Between 2 and 20 years the ilium grows in width by periosteal apposition (3.8 mm) and endocortical resorption (3.2 mm) on the outer cortex, and net periosteal resorption (0.4 mm) and net endocortical formation (1.0 mm) on the inner cortex. (2) Cortical width increases from 0.52 mm at age 2 years to 1.14 mm by age 20 years. To attain adult values there must be further endocortical apposition of 0.25 mm by age 30 years, at a time when cancellous bone mass is declining. (3) Lateral modeling drift of the outer cortex enlarges the marrow cavity; the new trabeculae filling this space arise from unresorbed cortical bone and represent cortical cancelization; (4) Lateral modeling drift of the inner cortex encroaches on the marrow cavity; some trabeculae are incorporated into the expanding cortex by compaction. (5) The net addition of 37 microm of new bone on each side of a trabecular plate results from a <5% difference between wall thickness and erosion depth and between bone formation and bone resorption rates; these small differences on the same surface are characteristic of bone remodeling. (6) Because the amount of bone added by each cycle of remodeling is so small, the rate of bone remodeling during growth must be high to accomplish the necessary trabecular hypertrophy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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