Issues

Characteristics of the osteocyte network in healthy and diseased human bone

Journal: Osteologie
ISSN: 1019-1291
Topic:

Osteozyt: Morphologie & Funktion

Issue: Issues of 2016 (Vol. 25): Issue 2 2016 (57-138)
Pages: 69-76

Characteristics of the osteocyte network in healthy and diseased human bone

A. vom Scheidt (1), B. Busse (1)

(1) Institut für Osteologie und Biomechanik, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Deutschland

Keywords

Osteoporosis, aging, Bone remodeling, Osteocyte network

Summary

In bone remodeling the bone-resorbing osteoclasts and bone-forming osteoblasts maintain the mechanical competence of bone in a balanced interaction. Additionally, the osteocyte, the most frequent osseous cell (> 25,000/mm³), resides in lacunae and is connected via channels creating an enormous nanoscale network. Osteocytes have shown exceptional mechanoresponsive and mechanosensitive behavior, allowing them to control bone repair in damaged or aged bone areas and improving the resistance to fracture. Here, we describe the following influences of aging and disease on the osteocyte lacuna-canalicular network: Mineralized lacunae may influence fluid flow and hamper mechanosensitivity, resulting in a loss of mechanical competence. Further an increasing number of mineralized lacunae, as in aged bone tissue, could make bone more susceptible to fracture. With a decreasing number of viable osteocytes, the network fails to detect local damages, thereby compromising bone strength. Our article highlights the major role of osteocytes in aging, disease and the preservation of bones’ strength. We found an aging- and disease-related decay of the osteocyte-lacunar network to be associated with the loss of bones’ strength. The network decay results in less targeted damage repair, thus enabling increased bone fragility, a major problem in an elderly population. It is essential to unravel the involvement of the osteocyte lacuno-canalicular system in bone fragility to combat fractures with preventive and therapeutic strategies.

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