1Department of Anthropology, New York University, 2Division of Anatomy, The Ohio State University, 3Forensic Anthropology Unit, Office of Chief Medical Examiner - New York City
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Age related bone loss is effectively quantified through cortical bone histology and past research demonstrates that patterns of cortical bone loss in weight bearing elements tend to be sex specific. Compared to females, males exhibit greater appositional growth and less endosteal expansion over time. Recent research involving the analysis of femoral wedges indicates that anterior cortical width (thickness) is not significantly correlated with age in males but has a significant negative correlation with age in females. This study expands upon these previous findings by evaluating relative cortical thickness, which corrects for body size, to determine its potential as a variable in sex-specific equations for histological age estimation and to evaluate changes to bone mass associated with sex-specific life events (i.e. parity, menopause).
Anterior cortical width (An.Ct.Wi), total cortical width (T.Ct.Wi), and relative cortical width (Rt.Ct.Wi; An.Ct.Wi/T.Ct.Wi) were collected from midshaft femur cross-sections. This study is comprised of 280 known-age individuals (137 females, 143 males), ranging in age between 22 and 97 years. Two-way ANOVA analyses with age and sex as independent variables were evaluated.
Results indicate that a significant negative relationship exists between all measures of cortical width and age in females, but there were no significant relationships found in males. Stepwise regression analysis using multiple histological variables and cortical width significantly improves age prediction models for females. This study corroborates literature regarding the disparate age-related changes in cortical bone loss between males and females previously observed and reaffirms the importance of using sex-specific equations in histological age estimation.