The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Does She or Doesn’t She: Change in Osteon Size with Age and Sex

MARGARET A. STREETER1, JOSEPH PURCELL1, LAURA LARSON1, BEKI JUMONVILLE1, LARA MCCORMICK2, JESSE GOLIATH2, MEGHAN TOMASITA-COSGRIFF-HERNANDEZ3, EMILY DUBIE1, TYLER SCHROEDER1, KIMBERLY BROWN1, MICHELLE DRAPEAU4 and RICHARD LAZENBY5.

1Anthropology, Boise State University, 2Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 3Anthropology, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command-Central Identification Laboratory,, 4Départment ď–anthropologie, Université de Montréal,, 5Anthropology, University of Northern British Columbia.

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Numerous studies have reported on the age associated change in mean osteon size (On.Ar mm2) in human cortical bone. While some report a decrease in On.Ar with age, other studies have found no change. The purpose of this study was to examine the correlation between On.Ar and age in a variety of bones: metacarpals (74), clavicles (n=22), ribs (n=102), tibias (n=27) and femurs (n=38). All bone samples and data were obtained from a variety of sources; archaeological excavations, dissecting room cadavers, autopsies and forensic cases. On.Ar was quantified in the mid-shaft cortex of at least 50 osteons in each bone at 200x magnification using the point count method. Recently, a study of Euro-Canadian second metacarpals determined that there was no correlation between age and On.Ar. In this study On.Ar in a sample of Inuit second metacarpals was also found not to decrease with age (r=.10). Data from clavicles (r=.29), tibias (r=.32), ribs (r=.52), and femurs (r=.72) show a negative correlation between On.Ar and age. The strength of the correlation varies from low (clavicles) to strong (femurs) and appears to be bone specific. Sex based differences are also evident with the strongest, negative, correlation between On.Ar and age in the females of each bone group. Based on our data, a decrease in osteon size with increasing age is bone specific and appears to be most evident in females.

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