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The Key Role of the Blood Supply to Bone.

Bone Research 2013 September
The importance of the vascular supply for bone is well-known to orthopaedists but is still rather overlooked within the wider field of skeletal research. Blood supplies oxygen, nutrients and regulatory factors to tissues, as well as removing metabolic waste products such as carbon dioxide and acid. Bone receives up to about 10% of cardiac output, and this blood supply permits a much higher degree of cellularity, remodelling and repair than is possible in cartilage, which is avascular. The blood supply to bone is delivered to the endosteal cavity by nutrient arteries, then flows through marrow sinusoids before exiting via numerous small vessels that ramify through the cortex. The marrow cavity affords a range of vascular niches that are thought to regulate the growth and differentiation of hematopoietic and stromal cells, in part via gradients of oxygen tension. The quality of vascular supply to bone tends to decline with age and may be compromised in common pathological settings, including diabetes, anaemias, chronic airway diseases and immobility, as well as by tumours. Reductions in vascular supply are associated with bone loss. This may be due in part to the direct effects of hypoxia, which blocks osteoblast function and bone formation but causes reciprocal increases in osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption. Common regulatory factors such as parathyroid hormone or nitrates, both of which are potent vasodilators, might exert their osteogenic effects on bone via the vasculature. These observations suggest that the bone vasculature will be a fruitful area for future research.

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