Closing cones create conical lamellae in secondary osteonal bone

Research output: Working PapersWorking paper

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusOnline published - 2 Jun 2022


Lamellae are sheets of mineralised collagen 1-20 µm thick, extending over hundreds of µm in bone tissue, occupying bone’s structural hierarchy at a level above collagen fibres and osteocytes, and below osteons and trabeculae. Osteons are tubular arrangements of lamellae surrounding central neurovascular canals. Lamellae in osteons are usually described as concentric cylinders based on their annular appearance in transverse section. In this review, I provide a perspective on current understanding of the relationship between bone formation front geometry and the shape of lamellae produced, reaching the conclusion that the ‘closing cone’ bone formation front in secondary osteonal remodelling must necessarily result in cone-shaped lamellae in the mature secondary osteon. Secondary osteons replace primary osteons through a tunnelling process of bone turnover, meaning that conical lamellae may become more common in older and damaged bone which is at greatest risk of fracture. Visualisation and measurement of three-dimensional lamellar shape over hundreds of microns is needed to provide data for accurate micromechanical simulations. Treating secondary osteonal lamellae as a ‘stack of cones’ rather than ‘nested cylinders’ may have important implications for our appreciation of bone’s function as a load-bearing tissue and of its behaviour in fracture.