With increasing age, bone undergoes changes in remodeling that ultimately compromise the structural integrity of the skeleton. The presence of osteocalcin in bone matrix may alter bone remodeling by promoting osteoclast activity. Whether age- and/or gender-related differences exist in the distribution of osteocalcin within individual bone remodeling units is not known. In this study, we determined the immunohistochemical distribution of osteocalcin in the extracellular matrix of iliac crest bone biopsies obtained from normal male and female volunteers, 20-80 yr old. Four different distribution patterns of osteocalcin within individual osteons were arbitrarily defined as types I, II, III, or IV. The frequency of appearance of each osteon type was determined as a percent of the total osteons per histologic section. The proportion of osteons that stained homogeneously throughout the concentric lamellae (type I) decreased in females and males with increasing age. The proportion of osteons that lack osteocalcin in the matrix immediately adjacent to Haversian canals (type III) increased in females and males with age. Osteons staining intensely in the matrix adjacent to Haversian canals (type II) increased in females and was unchanged in aging males. Osteons that contained osteocalcin-positive resting lines (type IV) increased in bone obtained from males with increasing age but were unchanged in females. Sections of bone immunostained for osteopontin (SPP-I), osteonectin, and decorin did not reveal multiple patterns or alterations in staining with gender or increasing age. We suggest that the morphology of individual bone remodeling units is heterogeneous and the particular morphologic pattern of osteocalcin distribution changes with age and gender. These results suggest that differences in the distribution of osteocalcin in bone matrix may be responsible, in part, for the altered remodeling of bone associated with gender and aging.
- noncollagenous proteins
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