Enamel-calibrated lamellar bone reveals long period growth rate variability in humans

Timothy G. Bromage, Yusuf M. Juwayeyi, Igor Smolyar, Bin Hu, Santiago Gomez, John Chisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mammalian teeth exhibit incremental structures representing successive forming fronts of enamel at varying time scales, including a short daily increment called a cross striation and a long period called a stria of Retzius, the latter of which, in humans, occurs on average every 8-9 days. The number of daily increments between striae is called the repeat interval, which is the same period as that required to form one increment of bone, i.e. the lamella, the fundamental - if not archetypal - unit of bone. Lamellae of known formation time nevertheless vary in width, and thus their measures provide time-calibrated growth rate variability. We measured growth rate variability for as many as 6 years of continuously forming primary incremental lamellar bone from midshaft femur histological sections of sub-Saharan Africans of Bantu origin and known life history. We observed periodic growth rate variability in approximately 6- to 8-week intervals, and in some cases annual rhythms were visible. Endogenous biological periodicities, cycles manifest in the external environment, and/or perturbations of development are all potentially contained within growth rate variability studies of lamellar incremental patterns. Because lamellae are formed within defined periods of time, quantitative measures of widths of individual lamellae provide time-resolved growth rate variability that may reveal rhythms in human bone growth heretofore unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalCells Tissues Organs
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Enamel striae of Retzius
  • Growth rhythms
  • Lamellar bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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