Tubular frameworks guiding orderly bone formation in the antler of the red deer (Cervus elaphus)

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Deer antler is a bony tissue which re-grows every year after shedding. Growth speed and material properties of this tissue are truly remarkable, making it an interesting model for bone regeneration. Surprisingly, not much is known about the ultrastructure of the calcified tissues and the temporal sequence of their development during antler growth. We use a combination of imaging tools based on light and electron microscopy to characterize antler tissue at various stages of development. We observe that mineralized cartilage is first transformed into a bone framework with low degree of collagen fibril ordering at the micron level. This framework has a honeycomb-like appearance with the cylindrical pores oriented along the main antler axis. Later, this tissue is filled with primary osteons, whose collagen fibrils are mainly oriented along the pores, thus improving the antler's mechanical properties. This strongly suggests that to achieve very fast organ growth it is advantageous to have a longitudinal porous framework as an intermediate step in bone formation. The example of antler shows that geometric features of this framework are crucial, and a tubular geometry with a diameter in the order of hundred micrometers seems to be a good solution for fast framework-mediated bone formation. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.




Krauss, S., Wagermaier, W., Estevez, J. A., Currey, J. D., & Fratzl, P. (2011). Tubular frameworks guiding orderly bone formation in the antler of the red deer (Cervus elaphus). Journal of Structural Biology, 175(3), 457–464. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsb.2011.06.005

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