Evaluating the relationship between lesion burden and aging among the skeletons of an 18th-19th century London cemetery using osteological and radiological analysis

Article English OPEN
van Schaik, Katherine ; Eisenberg, Ronald ; Bekvalac, Jelena ; Rühli, Frank (2018)
  • Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Journal: volume 13, issue 4 (issn: 1932-6203, eissn: 1932-6203)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC5919625, doi: 10.5167/uzh-151493, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196448, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196448.
  • Subject: Research Article | Population Metrics | Anatomy | Inflammatory Diseases | Cancer Risk Factors | Oncology | Population Groupings | Skeleton | Genetics | People and Places | Public and Occupational Health | Aging and Cancer | Osteology | Biology and Life Sciences | Genetics of Disease | Developmental Biology | Physiology | Musculoskeletal System | Medicine | Institute of Evolutionary Medicine | Age Groups | Organism Development | Life Expectancy | Q | R | Population Biology | Science | Medicine and Health Sciences | Aging | Physiological Processes

Study of disease in the past can help illuminate patterns of human health, disease, and aging in the present. As average human life expectancy and incidence of chronic disease have increased in the last century, efforts to understand this epidemiologic shift have led to more investigation of healthy aging. Using osteological and radiological methods of analysis, this study examined 212 mostly nineteenth century adult skeletons from the crypt of St. Bride’s in London, in order to investigate the relationship between age-at-death, sex, and number of lesions observed in bone. Lesions were classified into macro-level categories according to the Rapid Method for Recording Human Skeletal Data, and the correlation between age group and number of lesions in each category, as well as the total number of lesions, were analyzed. Correlations between age-at-death and the number and type of lesions were compared across both methods of analysis. A greater total number of lesions and a greater number of types of lesions was observed for the osteologically analyzed data, compared to the radiologically analyzed data. Correlations between age-at-death and specific pathology groups were in general weak, though stronger for the osteologically analyzed data. For each method of analysis, there were statistically significant differences between the total number of lesions and age group, with total number of lesions increasing with age, regardless of method of analysis. Joint and metabolic lesions were the most significant predictors of age-at-death. The correlations between total lesions observed and age-at-death were similar for radiologically and osteologically analyzed data, for the same set of bones. This suggests that, for the bones analyzed, while the number of lesions recorded differed according to method of analysis, the relationship between overall observed lesion burden and age-at-death was similar for both osteological and radiological analysis.
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