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Macroscopic Differences in Adult Human Femora are Linked to Body Mass Index

NCJ Number
Anatomical Record-Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology Volume: Online Dated: January 2024
Date Published
January 2024

The authors report on their examination of variation in femoral macroscopic morphology as a function of body mass index, providing details on the research methodology and outcomes.


Bone functional adaptation is routinely invoked to interpret skeletal morphology despite ongoing debate regarding the limits of the bone response to mechanical stimuli. The wide variation in human body mass presents an opportunity to explore the relationship between mechanical load and skeletal response in weight-bearing elements. Here, the authors examine variation in femoral macroscopic morphology as a function of body mass index (BMI), which is used as a metric of load history. A sample of 80 femora (40 female; 40 male) from recent modern humans was selected from the Texas State University Donated Skeletal Collection. Femora were imaged using X-ray computed tomography (voxel size ~0.5 mm), and segmented to produce surface models. Landmark-based geometric morphometric analyses based on the Coherent Point Drift algorithm were conducted to quantify shape. Principal components analyses were used to summarize shape variation, and component scores were regressed on BMI. Within the male sample, increased BMI was associated with a mediolaterally expanded femoral shaft, as well as increased neck-shaft angle and decreased femoral neck anteversion angle. No statistically significant relationships between shape and BMI were found in the female sample. While mechanical stimulus has traditionally been applied to changes in long bong diaphyseal shape it appears that bone functional adaptation may also result in fundamental changes in the shape of skeletal elements. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2024