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J Anat. 2006 Jan;208(1):99-113.

Experimental determination of the periodicity of incremental features in enamel.

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Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


Vital labelling of hard tissues was used to examine the periodicity of features of dental enamel microstructure. Fluorescent labels were administered pre- and postnatally to developing macaques (Macaca nemestrina), which were identified histologically in dentine and related to accentuated lines in enamel, allowing for counts of features within known-period intervals. This study demonstrates that cross-striations represent a daily rhythm in enamel secretion, and suggests that intradian lines are the result of a similar 12-h rhythm. Retzius lines were found to have a regular periodicity within individual dentitions, and laminations appear to represent a daily rhythm that also shows 12-h subdivisions. The inclusion of intradian lines and laminations represents the first empirical evidence for their periodicities in primates; these features frequently complicate precise measurements of secretion rate and Retzius line periodicity, which are necessary for determination of crown formation time. The biological basis of incremental feature formation is not completely understood; long-period features may result from interactions between short-period rhythms, although this does not explain the known range of Retzius line periodicities within humans or among primates. Studies of the genetic, neurological and hormonal basis of incremental feature formation are needed to provide more insight into their physiological and structural basis.

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