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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1989 Oct;80(2):137-43.

Fluorochrome labelling in Roman period skeletons from Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt.

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Department of Pathology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


A histological aging study of femoral midshafts in a late Roman period sample from the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt, showed discrete fluorochrome labelling. The fluorochrome is yellow-green in colour and fluoresces at a wavelength of 525 nm. The labelling occurs at the mineralization fronts and is so distinct that several histomorphometric measurements were made. The percent labelled surface values ranged from 6.03% to 59.34%, and the mean distance between labels ranged from 13.57 to 20.63 microns. Teeth from several individuals were also labelled within the enamel matrix. Comparisons were made between the patterns of fluorescent labelling from this population and from patients treated with interval and continuous dosages of tetracycline. The results collectively indicate that the fluorochrome is most likely tetracycline that made its way into the bone (in vivo) via stored grain contaminated by Streptomycetes. The labelling was differential, much like that of the patient on interval doses of tetracycline, so it is argued that the tetracycline was ingested occasionally, probably on a seasonal basis. The lack of bone infection in the adults (n = 29) suggests that the tetracycline may have provided some antibiotic protection in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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