Xiaoyu Tong, Inari S. Burton, Hanna Isaksson, Jukka S. Jurvelin, Heikki Kröger
Low bone volume and changes in bone quality or microarchitecture may predispose individuals to fragility fractures. As the dominant component of the human skeleton, cortical bone plays a key role in protecting bones from fracture. However, histological investigations of the underlying structural changes, which might predispose to fracture, have been largely limited to the cancellous bone. The aim of this study was to investigate the age-association and regional differences of histomorphometric properties in the femoral neck cortical bone. Undecalcified histological sections of the femoral neck (n = 20, aged 18–82 years, males) were cut (15 μm) and stained using modified Masson-Goldner stain. Complete femoral neck images were scanned, and cortical bone boundaries were defined using our previously established method. Cortical bone histomorphometry was performed with low (×50) and high magnification (×100). Most parameters related to cortical width (Mean Ct.Wi, Inferior Ct.Wi, Superior Ct.Wi) were negatively associated with age both before and after adjustment for height. The inferior cortex was the thickest (P < 0.001) and the superior cortex was the thinnest (P < 0.008) of all cortical regions. Both osteonal size and pores area were negatively associated with age. Osteonal area and number were higher in the antero-inferior area (P < 0.002) and infero-posterior area (P = 0.002) compared to the postero-superior area. The Haversian canal area was higher in the infero-posterior area compared to the postero-superior area (P = 0.002). Moreover, porosity was higher in the antero-superior area (P < 0.002), supero-anterior area (P < 0.002) and supero-posterior area (P < 0.002) compared to the infero-anterior area. Eroded endocortical perimeter (E.Pm/Ec.Pm) correlated positively with superior cortical width. This study describes the changes in cortical bone during ageing in healthy males. Further studies are needed to investigate whether these changes explain the increased susceptibility to femoral neck fractures.