Aging decreases the human femur’s fatigue resistance, impact energy absorption, and the ability to withstand load. Changes in the osteocyte distribution and in their elemental composition might be involved in age‐related bone impairment. To address this question, we carried out a histomorphometric assessment of the osteocyte lacunar distribution in the periosteal and endosteal human femoral cortexes of 16 female and 16 male donors with regard to age‐ and sex‐related bone remodeling. Measurements of the bone mineral density distribution by quantitative backscattered electron imaging and energy dispersive X‐ray analysis were taken to evaluate the osteocyte lacunar mineral composition and characteristics. Age‐dependent decreases in the total osteocyte lacunar number were measured in all of the cases. This change signifies a risk for the bone’s safety. Cortical subdivision into periosteal and endosteal regions of interest emphasized that, in both sexes, primarily the endosteal cortex is affected by age‐dependent reduction in number of osteocyte lacunae, whereas the periosteal compartment showed a less pronounced osteocyte lacunar deficiency. In aged bone, osteocyte lacunae showed an increased amount of hypermineralized calcium phosphate occlusions in comparison with younger cases. With respect to Frost’s early delineation of micropetrosis, our microanalyses revealed that the osteocyte lacunae are subject to hypermineralization. Intralacunar hypermineralization accompanied by a decrease in total osteocyte lacunar density may contribute to failure or delayed bone repair in aging bone. A decreased osteocyte lacunar density may cause deteriorations in the canalicular fluid flow and reduce the detection of microdamage, which counteracts the bone’s structural integrity, while hypermineralized osteocyte lacunae may increase bone brittleness and render the bone fragile.
Aging; apoptosis; bone histomorphometry; electron microscopy; microanalysis; osteocyte death