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Structural differences between “dark” and “bright” isolated human osteonic lamellae

Journal of Structural Biology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1047-8477(02)00578-6
  • Bone
  • Collagen
  • Confocal Microscopy
  • Lamellae
  • Plywood Structure
  • Polarizing Light
  • Secondary Osteon
  • Synchrotron Radiation
  • X-Ray Microdiffraction
  • Biology


Abstract This investigation presents new insights into the structure of human secondary lamellae. Lamellar specimens that appear dark and bright on alternate osteon transverse sections under circularly polarizing light were isolated using a new technique, and examined by polarizing light microscopy, synchrotron X-ray diffraction, and confocal microscopy. A distribution of unidirectional collagen bundles and of two overlapping oblique bundles appears on circularly polarizing light microscopy images in relation to the angle between the specimen and the crossed Nicols’ planes. The unidirectional collagen bundles observed at 45° run parallel to the osteon axis in the dark lamellar specimens and perpendicular to it in the bright ones. Small and wide-angle micro-focus X-ray diffraction indicates that the dark lamellae are structurally quite homogeneous, with collagen fibers and apatite crystals preferentially oriented parallel to the osteon axis. Bright lamellar specimens exhibit different orientation patterns with the dominant ones bidirectional at ±45° with respect to the osteon axis. Accordingly, confocal microscopy evidences the presence of longitudinal bundles in dark lamellar specimens and oblique bundles in the bright ones. Radial bundles are evidenced in both lamellar types. The alternate osteon structure is described by a rather continuous multidirectional pattern, in which dark and bright lamellae display different mechanical and possibly biological functions.

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