Comparative morphology of the marrow sac

Lian Xiang Bi, David J. Simmons, Hal K. Hawkins, Robert A. Cox, Elgene G. Mainous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Electron microscopic techniques have been used to profile the morphologies of marrow sacs in different laboratory species. These structures all comprise a condensed layer of overlapping fibroblast-like stromal cells and apparently confine the medullary and endosteal osteoblast/lining cells to separate histiotypic compartments. There were some variations in the morphology of the sac cells in the different species. In rats, cats, and sheep, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed a seamless arrangement of marrow sac cells which resembled a thin, flat simple squamous epithelium; they displayed few intercellular cytoplasmic processes. In the rabbit and pigeon, the sac comprised a more woven, multilayered fabric of broadly elongate flat fibroblast-like cells which displayed numerous intercellular processes. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed that all marrow sac cells were attenuated with elongated nuclei, a few small round mitochondria, and a sparse rough endoplasmic reticulum. In the majority of animals, the sac was one to two cell layers thick. The rabbit and pigeon sacs were multilayered, and never less than three to four cells deep. The cell layers were not closely apposed. Tight or gap junctions were absent at the points of intercellular contact. These morphological results suggest that marrow sacs are common elements of the vertebrate skeleton with species specific morphologies. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-415
Number of pages6
JournalThe Anatomical Record
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000


  • Bone-marrow interface
  • Marrow sac
  • Marrow stromal cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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