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How bones grow in length

The epiphyseal plate is the area of growth in a long bone. It is a layer of hyaline cartilage where ossification occurs in immature bones. On the epiphyseal side of the epiphyseal plate, cartilage is formed. On the diaphyseal side, cartilage is ossified, and the diaphysis grows in length. The epiphyseal plate is composed of four zones of cells and activity ( [link] ). The reserve zone    is the region closest to the epiphyseal end of the plate and contains small chondrocytes within the matrix. These chondrocytes do not participate in bone growth but secure the epiphyseal plate to the osseous tissue of the epiphysis.

Longitudinal bone growth

This illustration shows the zones bordering the epiphyseal plate of the epiphysis. The topmost layer of the epiphysis is the reserve zone, which is colored blue because it is made of cartilage. Two arteries are shown travelling through this zone to supply nutrients to the second zone: the proliferative zone. Here, five chondrocytes are undergoing mitosis. They continually divide, producing five long rows of chondrocytes. The next zone is the zone of maturation and hypertrophy. Here, lipids, glycogen and alkaline phosphatase accumulate, causing the cartilaginous matrix to calcify. This zone consists of five rows of ten chondrocytes which are increasing in size as one moves down a row. The next zone is the calcified matrix. Here, the chondrocytes have hardened and die as the matrix around them has calcified. The bottommost row is the zone of ossification. This zone is actually part of the metaphysis. Arteries from the metaphysis branch through the newly-formed trabeculae in this zone. The newly deposited bone tissue at the top of the zone of ossification is called the primary spongiosa. The older bone at the bottom of the zone of ossification is labeled the secondary spongiosa.
The epiphyseal plate is responsible for longitudinal bone growth.

The proliferative zone    is the next layer toward the diaphysis and contains stacks of slightly larger chondrocytes. It makes new chondrocytes (via mitosis) to replace those that die at the diaphyseal end of the plate. Chondrocytes in the next layer, the zone of maturation and hypertrophy    , are older and larger than those in the proliferative zone. The more mature cells are situated closer to the diaphyseal end of the plate. The longitudinal growth of bone is a result of cellular division in the proliferative zone and the maturation of cells in the zone of maturation and hypertrophy.

Most of the chondrocytes in the zone of calcified matrix    , the zone closest to the diaphysis, are dead because the matrix around them has calcified. Capillaries and osteoblasts from the diaphysis penetrate this zone, and the osteoblasts secrete bone tissue on the remaining calcified cartilage. Thus, the zone of calcified matrix connects the epiphyseal plate to the diaphysis. A bone grows in length when osseous tissue is added to the diaphysis.

Bones continue to grow in length until early adulthood. The rate of growth is controlled by hormones, which will be discussed later. When the chondrocytes in the epiphyseal plate cease their proliferation and bone replaces the cartilage, longitudinal growth stops. All that remains of the epiphyseal plate is the epiphyseal line    ( [link] ).

Progression from epiphyseal plate to epiphyseal line

This illustration shows anterior views of a right and left femur. The left femur possesses a growth plate at the border of its distal metaphysis and distal epiphysis. The proximal epiphysis has two growth plates. The first is located below the head of the femur while the second is located below the trochanter, which is the bump on the lateral side of the femur. The right femur has the same plates as the left femur. However, the left femur represents a mature long bone. Here, growth is completed and the epiphyseal plate has degraded to a thin, faint, epiphyseal line.
As a bone matures, the epiphyseal plate progresses to an epiphyseal line. (a) Epiphyseal plates are visible in a growing bone. (b) Epiphyseal lines are the remnants of epiphyseal plates in a mature bone.

How bones grow in diameter

While bones are increasing in length, they are also increasing in diameter; growth in diameter can continue even after longitudinal growth ceases. This is called appositional growth. Osteoclasts resorb old bone that lines the medullary cavity, while osteoblasts, via intramembranous ossification, produce new bone tissue beneath the periosteum. The erosion of old bone along the medullary cavity and the deposition of new bone beneath the periosteum not only increase the diameter of the diaphysis but also increase the diameter of the medullary cavity. This process is called modeling    .

Bone remodeling

The process in which matrix is resorbed on one surface of a bone and deposited on another is known as bone modeling. Modeling primarily takes place during a bone’s growth. However, in adult life, bone undergoes remodeling    , in which resorption of old or damaged bone takes place on the same surface where osteoblasts lay new bone to replace that which is resorbed. Injury, exercise, and other activities lead to remodeling. Those influences are discussed later in the chapter, but even without injury or exercise, about 5 to 10 percent of the skeleton is remodeled annually just by destroying old bone and renewing it with fresh bone.

Diseases of the…

Skeletal system

Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disease in which bones do not form properly and therefore are fragile and break easily. It is also called brittle bone disease. The disease is present from birth and affects a person throughout life.

The genetic mutation that causes OI affects the body’s production of collagen, one of the critical components of bone matrix. The severity of the disease can range from mild to severe. Those with the most severe forms of the disease sustain many more fractures than those with a mild form. Frequent and multiple fractures typically lead to bone deformities and short stature. Bowing of the long bones and curvature of the spine are also common in people afflicted with OI. Curvature of the spine makes breathing difficult because the lungs are compressed.

Because collagen is such an important structural protein in many parts of the body, people with OI may also experience fragile skin, weak muscles, loose joints, easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds, brittle teeth, blue sclera, and hearing loss. There is no known cure for OI. Treatment focuses on helping the person retain as much independence as possible while minimizing fractures and maximizing mobility. Toward that end, safe exercises, like swimming, in which the body is less likely to experience collisions or compressive forces, are recommended. Braces to support legs, ankles, knees, and wrists are used as needed. Canes, walkers, or wheelchairs can also help compensate for weaknesses.

When bones do break, casts, splints, or wraps are used. In some cases, metal rods may be surgically implanted into the long bones of the arms and legs. Research is currently being conducted on using bisphosphonates to treat OI. Smoking and being overweight are especially risky in people with OI, since smoking is known to weaken bones, and extra body weight puts additional stress on the bones.

Watch this video to see how a bone grows.

Chapter review

All bone formation is a replacement process. Embryos develop a cartilaginous skeleton and various membranes. During development, these are replaced by bone during the ossification process. In intramembranous ossification, bone develops directly from sheets of mesenchymal connective tissue. In endochondral ossification, bone develops by replacing hyaline cartilage. Activity in the epiphyseal plate enables bones to grow in length. Modeling allows bones to grow in diameter. Remodeling occurs as bone is resorbed and replaced by new bone. Osteogenesis imperfecta is a genetic disease in which collagen production is altered, resulting in fragile, brittle bones.

Questions & Answers

Between the heart and the Brain which one is more important to human being... discuss
Faith Reply
well the brain is important for motor skills, the heart is important for involuntary muscle movement supporting body functions. the body can survive without brain involvement, but the body cannot last without the heart
john
granted the heart is important, but the brain gives the body purpose
john
what is homeostasis
Rebecca Reply
what is the composition of saliva
Vijay Reply
ഫസ്റ്റ് ചാപ്റ്റർ ഇംപോർട്ടൻസ് പോസ്റ്റ്
Reshma Reply
Yes....
Loving
nhi samjh aya
Anshika
Nhi wt is this
Loving
I don't know
Anshika
Okk wre frm u r
Loving
what is mean of? reshma
Asad
I don't know but would like to
Rebecca
D bone in d ankle joint re what ?
Ifunanya Reply
can one define a cell as a basic unit of a living organism
Michael Reply
Which of the following hormones are responsible for the adolescent growth spurt? estrogen and testosterone, even in women?
Kepa Reply
estrogen
Farhana
Estrogen!
Jazil
estrogen hormone
Michael
yes estrogen hormone
Anshika
yes
Sale
What is sling give d characteristics of sling uses of sling
adamu Reply
a sling a rope used in hunting ie throwing of rocks
Michael
I went to learn anatomy of joints
Arman Reply
me 2
adamu
joint have 3 cartilaginous joint fibrous joint synovial joint U can reserch in Google can explain U well
sopheaktra
define sling
adamu
To throw with a circular or arcing motion
real
what is respiration
Osele Reply
what is respiration
Paul
Respiration is the process by which oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide is given out.
Md
Respiration is the combination of inhalation and exhalation.
Khim
inhalation is the taking in air from environment to lung and exhalation is taking out sir from the lung to environment ..
Khim
is the process by wich gases(oxygen and carbon(IV)oxide go through the nose, trachea and the lungs to the blood stream
Michael
what is holistic
Kibrom Reply
Holistic means encompassing the whole of a thing, and not just the part. Holistic medicine looks at the whole person for answers, not just at physical symptoms. You might have heard of holistic medicine, which tries to treat someone as mind and body, instead of treating only the part of the patient
I want to learn one by one system like skeleton system... muscular system
Mary Reply
i want to learn this
Kibrom
what is the difference between regional anatomy and system anatomy
David
system anatomy is when we study the system like digestive, circulatory, reproductive, but regional anatomy is studying the anatomy by regions of body like anatomy of neck, thorax, head etc. Regional anatomy may include system anatomy...
Biplav
yes
Anshika
explain in details factors that affects bone development
Precious Reply
describe the process of bone healing
Precious
out line factors that delays bone healing
Precious
actually,for the bone formation they must be sufficient level of calcium,phosphorus and vitamin D in the body for it to happen smoothly.
lucky
the above mentioned substances are the ones able for the formation and repairing of bones.
lucky
explain in details factors that affects bone development
Precious
what are tissue
muki Reply
a lots of cells make tissue and a cell body is tissue
Rabab
cells come together to form a tissue and tissues come together to form an organ
Adoma
what is appendicular skeleton
OSE Reply
appendicular skeleton is upper limbs and lower limbs
sopheaktra

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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