Quantitative imaging of sex and age differences in human cortical bone osteocyte lacunae
Osteocytes, the most abundant cell within bone, have been linked to the processes of mechanosensation and transduction. Based upon relatively limited empirical evidence, variations in their abundance and morphology have been linked to sex, age, biomechanics and disease. In order to better elucidate lacunar variation within a healthy cohort, samples from 30 women aged 20-86 and 36 men aged 18-92 were studied utilizing synchrotron radiation micro-CT. Initial studies of normal variation within the femoral proximal shaft cross-section found high variation in lacunar density (up to ~54%) and associated morphological differences linked to biomechanical regions. In women, a non-significant trend in lacunar density reduction was apparent with age; however, a significant reduction in lacunar volume with age (~30%) was observed. Also noted were differences in lacunar morphology, with the lacunae of younger women characterized as flatter and less equant than their older counterparts. The males, who demonstrated lacunar density decline with age and a tendency towards more equant and less elongate lacunae, did not share these characteristics. Intriguingly, the previously noted reductions in lacunar volume were not observed in males. The results of this research indicate that normal variation in osteocyte lacunar parameters is high. To our knowledge the observation that lacunar volume differs in women with age is novel, potentially resulting from preferential surface infilling within the extracellular space. The functional impact of this infilling is unclear but such a change in scale likely impacts the mechanosensing function of the osteocyte network. This hypothesis warrants further investigation as, if confirmed, it would represent a profound negative impact on the osteocyte network and may provide new insights into age-related bone loss.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentAnatomy and Cell Biology
ProgramAnatomy and Cell Biology
CommitteeChapman, Dean; Kontulainen, Saijia; Lieverse, Angela; Walker, Ernest
Copyright DateJuly 2014
Human Cortical Bone