New Blood Vessels Found in Bone

 In Naturopathic News
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Node Smith, ND

A team of researchers from the University Duisburg-Essen, Germany have discovered a new network of blood vessels located in the long bones of mice, these same vessels have also been newly confirmed in human long bones.1 The finding has recently been published in the journal Nature Metabolism.

“Trans-cortical vessels” (TCVs)

The vessels have been named by the researchers, “trans-cortical vessels” (TCVs), and were found to originate in the bone marrow and run perpendicularly along the shaft within the cortical bone, connecting to the periosteal circulation.

This finding could help improve the way bone diseases such as osteoporosis are understood, as well as immune system disorders.

Finding could help improve the way bone diseases are understood

There had been a previous understanding of some blood vessels existing at the ends of bones and up to halfway along the shafts of long bones, however there had been little understanding of how blood actually enters and leaves these long bones.

Matthias Gunzer and a team of researchers decided to study this lack of knowledge and look at the blood vessel distribution in the long bones of mice. Imaging techniques that have only recently become available made this possible.

Analysis of the lower leg bone

Analysis of the lower leg bone using light-sheet fluorescence microscopy and X-ray microscopy showed TCVs crossing the bone shaft, covering the whole bone and constituting most of the bone’s blood supply.

“It’s totally crazy there are still things to find out about human anatomy – we have discovered blood vessels in a new place that we didn’t know about before” Matthias Gunzer said, the study’s lead author.

Study also showed that humans have similar vessels in the femur

The study also showed that humans have similar vessels in the femur. Analysis of tiny samples taken from the neck of the human femur identified vessels that were structurally similar to (although much wider than) the ones seen in the mouse model.

“Taken together, these data suggest that human long bones, at least in some areas, also possess a system of TCVs that directly connects the vascular system of the BM to the peripheral circulation through cortical bone,” Gunzer commented.

Diseases affecting bone physiology are known to cause substantial changes in TCV numbers

Gunzer and colleagues point out that diseases affecting bone physiology are known to cause substantial changes in TCV numbers.

“Since key bone pathologies are associated with alterations in the TCV system, entirely new research possibilities that further characterize the role of TCVs in skeletal biology and disease can be envisioned.”


Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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