Bone strength during growth: influence of growth rate on cortical porosity and mineralization

B Williams, D Waddington, D H Murray, C Farquharson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although it is well accepted that bone architecture adapts to withstand the loads placed on it, the manner in which this occurs in the immature growing skeleton is not fully understood. To investigate the possible mechanisms, we have compared morphometric differences between tibiae from chickens with fast and those with slow growth potential and also distinguished between the effects of genetic potential and growth rate on their impact on bone quality. Two different fast-growing (ad lib modern) strains, one additionally feed-restricted and one slow-growing (control) strain of chicken, were compared at 15 and 42 days of age. The ad lib modern strains had similar final body weights and were approximately twice the weight of the control and restricted-fed birds. Tibiae from the control and restricted birds had a higher ash content and lower porosity than the ad lib modern strain at 42 days. The porosity was a result of rapid primary osteon formation at the periosteal surface and incomplete infilling of the resultant canal by osteoblasts. When adjusted to average body weight of contemporaries, bones from the control strain and the restricted-fed modern birds were stiffer and at least as strong as those from the fast growing ad lib-fed birds. In conclusion, rapid bone deposition at the periosteal surface was associated with decreased mineralization, increased cortical porosity, and altered biomechanical properties. Our results also indicate that growth rate, and not genetic potential, of the fast growing birds was responsible for the rapid periosteal bone deposition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-45
Number of pages10
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Calcification, Physiologic
  • Calcium
  • Chickens
  • Food Deprivation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Isoenzymes
  • Male
  • Species Specificity
  • Tibia


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