Uranium in Bone: Metabolic and Autoradiographic Studies in the Rat

N. D. Priest, G. R. Howells, D. Green, Jacqueline Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The distribution and retention of intravenously injected hexavalent uranium-233 in the skeleton of the female rat has been investigated using a variety of autoradiographic and radiochemical techniques. These showed that approximately one third of the injected uranium is deposited in the skeleton where it is retained with an initial biological half-time of ∼40 days. The studies also showed that: 1 Uranium is initially deposited onto all types of bone surface, but preferentially onto those that are accreting. 2 Uranium is deposited in the calcifying zones of skeletal cartilage. 3 Bone accretion results in the burial of surface deposits of uranium. 4 Bone resorption causes the removal of uranium from surfaces. 5 Resorbed uranium is not retained by osteoclasts and macrophages in the bone marrow. 6 Uranium removed from bone surfaces enters the bloodstream where most is either redeposited in bone or excreted via the kidneys. 7 The recycling of resorbed uranium within the skeleton tends to produce a uniform level of uranium contamination throughout mineralized bone. These results are taken to indicate that uranium deposition in bone shares characteristics in common with both the ‘volume-seeking radionuclides' typified by the alkaline earth elements and with the ‘bone surface-seeking radionuclides' typified by plutonium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-114
Number of pages18
JournalHuman & Experimental Toxicology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1982


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