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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2003 Sep;35(9):1301-5.

Osteoblasts: novel roles in orchestration of skeletal architecture.

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School of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Osteoblasts are located on bone surfaces and are the cells responsible for bone formation through secretion of the organic components of bone matrix. Osteoblasts are derived from mesenchymal osteoprogenitor cells found in bone marrow and periosteum. Following a period of secretory activity, osteoblasts undergo either apoptosis or terminal differentiation to form osteocytes surrounded by bone matrix. Osteoblasts secrete a characteristic mixture of extracellular matrix proteins including type I collagen as the major component as well as proteoglycans, glycoproteins and gamma-carboxylated proteins. Cells of the osteoblast lineage also provide factors essential for differentiation of osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells). By regulating osteoclast differentiation and activity in response to systemic influences, osteoblasts not only play a central role in regulation of skeletal architecture, but also in calcium homeostasis. Inadequate osteoblastic bone formation in relation to osteoclastic resorption results in osteoporosis, a disease characterised by enhanced skeletal fragility. Cellfacts: Osteoblasts are the cells responsible for bone formation. Osteoblasts indirectly control levels of bone resorption. Osteoblasts play a key role in the pathophysiology of osteoporosis and the resulting fractures, which constitute a major public health burden in developed countries.

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