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Calcif Tissue Int. 2005 Nov;77(5):291-6. Epub 2005 Nov 16.

Differences in osteocyte density and bone histomorphometry between men and women and between healthy and osteoporotic subjects.

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  • 1Department of Oral Cell Biology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Bone defects related to osteoporosis develop with increasing age and differ between males and females. It is currently thought that the bone remodeling process is supervised by osteocytes in a strain-dependent manner. We have shown an altered response of osteocytes from osteoporotic patients to mechanical loading, and osteocyte density is reduced in osteoporotic patients, which might relate to imperfect bone remodeling, leading to lack of bone mass and strength. Hence, information on osteocyte density will contribute to a better understanding of bone biology in males and females and to the assessment of osteoporosis. Osteocyte density as well as conventional histomorphometric parameters of trabecular bone were determined in cancellous iliac crest bone of healthy postmenopausal women and men and of osteoporotic women and men. Osteocyte density was higher in healthy females than in healthy males and lower in osteoporotic females than in healthy females. Bone mass was reduced in osteoporotic patients, both male and female. In females, trabecular number was reduced, whereas in males, trabecular thickness was reduced and eroded surface was increased. There were no correlations between the parameter groups bone architecture, bone formation, bone resorption, and osteocyte density. These results are consistent with impaired osteoblast function in osteoporotic patients and with a different mechanism of bone loss between men and women, in which osteocyte density might play a role. The reduced osteocyte numbers in female osteoporotic patients might relate to imperfect bone remodeling leading to lack of bone mass and strength.

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