Scaling of Haversian canal surface area to secondary osteon bone volume in ribs and limb bones


John G. Skedros, Alex N. Knight, Gunnar C. Clark, Christian M. Crowder, Victoria M. Dominguez, Shijing Qiu, Dawn M. Mulhern, Seth W. Donahue, Björn Busse, Brannon I. Hulsey, Marco Zedda, Scott M. Sorenson


Studies of secondary osteons in ribs have provided a great deal of what is known about remodeling dynamics. Compared with limb bones, ribs are metabolically more active and sensitive to hormonal changes, and receive frequent low-strain loading. Optimization for calcium exchange in rib osteons might be achieved without incurring a significant reduction in safety factor by disproportionally increasing central canal size with increased osteon size (positive allometry). By contrast, greater mechanical loads on limb bones might favor reducing deleterious consequences of intracortical porosity by decreasing osteon canal size with increased osteon size (negative allometry). Evidence of this metabolic/mechanical dichotomy between ribs and limb bones was sought by examining relationships between Haversian canal surface area (BS, osteon Haversian canal perimeter, HC.Pm) and bone volume (BV, osteonal wall area, B.Ar) in a broad size range of mature (quiescent) osteons from adult human limb bones and ribs (modern and medieval) and various adult and subadult non-human limb bones and ribs. Reduced major axis (RMA) and least-squares (LS) regressions of HC.Pm/B.Ar data show that rib and limb osteons cannot be distinguished by dimensional allometry of these parameters. Although four of the five rib groups showed positive allometry in terms of the RMA slopes, nearly 50% of the adult limb bone groups also showed positive allometry when negative allometry was expected. Consequently, our results fail to provide clear evidence that BS/BV scaling reflects a rib versus limb bone dichotomy whereby calcium exchange might be preferentially enhanced in rib osteons.

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