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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Oct 7;335(4):1095-101.

Death of osteocytes turns off the inhibition of osteoclasts and triggers local bone resorption.

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Department of Anatomy, Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


Osteocytes have been suggested to play a role in the regulation of bone resorption, although their effect on bone turnover has remained controversial. In order to study this open question, we developed an organ culture system based on isolated rat calvaria, where the osteocyte viability and its effect on osteoclastic bone resorption can be monitored. Our results suggest that osteocytes are constitutively negative regulators of osteoclastic activity. Osteoclasts, which were cultured on calvarial slices with living osteocytes inside, failed to form actin rings which are the hallmarks of resorbing cells. A similar inhibitory effect was also achieved by the conditioned medium obtained from calvarial organ culture, suggesting that living osteocytes produce yet unrecognized osteoclast inhibitors. On the contrary, when osteocyte apoptosis was induced, this inhibitory effect disappeared and strong osteoclastic bone resorption activity was observed. Thus, local apoptosis of osteocytes may play a major role in triggering local bone remodeling.

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