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8th Combined Meeting Of Orthopaedic Research Societies (CORS)


Summary Statement

Thickness and cellularity of human periosteum are important parameters both for engineering replacement tissue as well as for surgeons looking to minimise tissue damage while harvesting the most viable periosteum possible for autologous regenerative therapies. This study provides a new foundation for understanding the basic structural features of middiaphyseal periosteum from femora and tibiae of aged donors.


A number of recent studies describe mechanical, permeability and regenerative properties of periosteal tissue and periosteum derived cells in a variety of animal models [1,2]. However, due to lack of access in healthy patients, the structural properties underlying human periosteum's inherent regenerative power and advanced material properties are not well understood. Periosteum comprises a cellular cambium layer directly apposing the outer surface of bone and an outer fibrous layer encompassed by the surrounding soft tissues. As a first step to elucidate periosteum's structural and cellular characteristics in human bone, the current study aims to measure cambium and fibrous layer thickness as well as cambium cellularity in human femora and tibiae of aged donors.


Five cm segments of the mid-diaphysis were harvested from the left and right tibiae and femora of formalin-fixed cadavers donated to the Department of Anatomy at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich. Overlying skin and musculature was preserved during embedding to avoid disruption of periosteal tissue. A total of 29 mid-diaphyseal samples were collected from eight donors, aged between 68 and 99. Cambium layer thickness, fibrous thickness and cambium cell number were measured at regular 100 μm intervals from the centroidal axis along the bone's outer surface (ImageJ 1.42q). The major and minor centroidal axes (CA) serve as automated reference points in cross sections of cadaveric mid-diaphyseal femora and tibiae.


Based on the results of this study, within a given individual, the cambium layer of the major CA of the tibia is significantly thicker and more cellular than the respective layer of the femur. These significant intraindividual differences do not translate to significant interindividual differences. Further, mid-diaphyseal periosteal measures including cambium and fibrous layer thickness and cellularity do not correlate significantly with age or body mass. Finally, qualitative observations of periosteum in amputated and contralateral or proximal long bones of the lower extremity exhibit stark changes in layer organization, thickness, and cellularity.


In a translational context, these unprecedented data, though inherently limited by availability and accessibility of human mid-diaphyseal periosteum tissue, provide important reference values for use of periosteum in context of facilitated healing and regeneration of tissue.