Evidence for the role of osteocytes in the initiation of targeted remodeling

Terhi J. Heino, Kosaku Kurata, Hidehiko Higaki, H. Kalervo Väänänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Microdamage in bone contributes to fractures and acts as a stimulus for bone remodeling. Osteocytes are the most abundant cells in bone, and their death by microdamage has been suggested to be the major event leading in the initiation of osteoclastic bone resorption. Even though there is increasing evidence that osteocyte density, microcracks and targeted remodeling are related, there still exist several questions. For example, how osteoclasts are targeted to the specific site of microdamage for repair. It has been proposed that apoptotic osteocytes could secrete a specific signal to target osteoclasts. The other question is the nature of this signal. To elucidate the role of microdamage-induced osteocyte cell death in the initiation of targeted remodelling, this paper discusses the potential use of an in vitro model, in which osteocytes can be three-dimensionally cultured and locally damaged. Furthermore, the method enables one to study the osteocyte-derived soluble interactions with bone marrow cells. It was demonstrated that damaged osteocytes locally affect osteoclast precursors by secreting osteoclastogenic factors, and thus can have a role in the initiation of resorption in bone remodelling. This strongly supports the idea that damage to osteocyte cellular network has the potential to stimulate osteoclastic proliferation and therefore the activation of Basic Multicellular Units (BMUs).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalTechnology and Health Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 19 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Information Systems
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics


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