How does the periosteum control bone width?

Research Opportunity
Honours students
Number of Honour Places Available
Department / Centre
Medicine and Radiology
St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Natalie Sims
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Natalie Wee

Summary New targeted strategies are needed to improve bone strength. We will examine fluorescent cell populations located in the periosteum (exterior surface) of long bones to uncover novel mechanisms by which they promote bone deposition and increase bone strength. This work will identify novel cell types and factors that may be targeted in the future to improve bone strength.

Project Details

Skeletal health is determined by the strength of our bones and how well they can resist breaking. Current treatments for osteoporosis (fragile bones) preserve bone strength by increasing bone formation and inhibiting bone destruction. While these therapies are good for the spine, they are not effective at other bone sites (i.e. femur, hip, wrist). Strikingly, the femur, hip, and wrist are strong because they are rich in cortical bone, the hard-outer shell. If we can find a way to increase cortical bone width specifically, this will improve bone strength at the femur, hip and wrist – the sites that need strength the most when someone falls.

We will study the cells that are located within the periosteum (exterior surface of bone). Using lineage tracing, we will be able to identify and track cell populations within the periosteum. We will also examine how these cells respond to a known anabolic therapy leading to the development of wider bones, which leads to improved bone strength. By studying the cells and molecular mechanisms involved, we may identify novel targets and pathways that may be used in the future to improve bone strength.

This project will involve lineage tracing using mouse models, cryosectioning, immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, RNAseq and cell culture to characterise the periosteal cell populations and identify the molecular determinants of bone width.

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

Honours students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research

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