UMMS Affiliation

Department of Radiology

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Musculoskeletal Diseases | Musculoskeletal System | Radiology


The lacunar-canalicular network (LCN) of bone contains osteocytes and their dendritic extensions, which allow for intercellular communication, and are believed to serve as the mechanosensors that coordinate the processes of bone modeling and remodeling. Imbalances in remodeling, for example, are linked to bone disease, including fragility associated with aging. We have reported that there is a reduction in scale for one component of the LCN, osteocyte lacunar volume, across the human lifespan in females. In the present study, we explore the hypothesis that canalicular porosity also declines with age. To visualize the LCN and to determine how its components are altered with aging, we examined samples from young (age: 20-23 y; n = 5) and aged (age: 70-86 y; n = 6) healthy women donors utilizing a fluorescent labelling technique in combination with confocal laser scanning microscopy. A large cross-sectional area of cortical bone spanning the endosteal to periosteal surfaces from the anterior proximal femoral shaft was examined in order to account for potential trans-cortical variation in the LCN. Overall, we found that LCN areal fraction was reduced by 40.6% in the samples from aged women. This reduction was due, in part, to a reduction in lacunar density (21.4% decline in lacunae number per given area of bone), but much more so due to a 44.6% decline in canalicular areal fraction. While the areal fraction of larger vascular canals was higher in endosteal vs. periosteal regions for both age groups, no regional differences were observed in the areal fractions of the LCN and its components for either age group. Our data indicate that the LCN is diminished in aged women, and is largely due to a decline in the canalicular areal fraction, and that, unlike vascular canal porosity, this diminished LCN is uniform across the cortex.


Bone, Lacunae, Canaliculi, Human aging, Confocal laser scanning microscopy

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Copyright 2017 The Authors.

DOI of Published Version



Bone Rep. 2017 Jun 28;7:9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.bonr.2017.06.002. eCollection 2017 Dec. Link to article on publisher's site

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Bone reports

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.