Composition of microstructural compartments in compact bone of aging male subjects was assessed using Raman microscopy. Secondary mineralization of unremodeled fragments persisted for two decades. Replacement of these tissue fragments with secondary osteons kept mean composition constant over age, but at a fully mineralized limit. Slowing of remodeling may increase fracture susceptibility through an increase in proportion of highly mineralized tissue.
In this study, the aging process in the microstructural compartments of human femoral cortical bone was investigated and related to changes in the overall tissue composition within the age range of 17‐73 years. Raman microprobe analysis was used to assess the mineral content, mineral crystallinity, and carbonate substitution in fragments of primary lamellar bone that survived remodeling for decades. Tissue composition of the secondary osteonal population was investigated to determine the composition of turned over tissue volume. Finally, Raman spectral analysis of homogenized tissue was performed to evaluate the effects of unremodeled and newly formed tissue on the overall tissue composition. The chemical composition of the primary lamellar bone exhibited two chronological stages. Organic matrix became more mineralized and the crystallinity of the mineral improved during the first stage, which lasted for two decades. The mineral content and the mineral crystallinity did not vary during the second stage. The results for the primary lamellar bone demonstrated that physiological mineralization, as evidenced by crystal growth and maturation, is a continuous process that may persist as long as two decades, and the growth and maturation process stops after the organic matrix becomes “fully mineralized.” The average mineral content and the average mineral crystallinity of the homogenized tissue did not change with age. It was also observed that the mineral content of the homogenized tissue was consistently greater than the osteons and similar to the “fully mineralized” stage of primary bone. The results of this study demonstrated that unremodeled compartments of bone grow older through maturation and growth of mineral crystals in a protracted fashion. However, the secondary osteonal remodeling impedes this aging process and maintains the mean tissue age fairly constant over decades. Therefore, slowing of remodeling may lead to brittle bone tissue through accumulation of fully mineralized tissue fragments.