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Cells Tissues Organs. 2009;190(2):61-8. doi: 10.1159/000178022. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

Effect of mechanical stimulation on osteoblast- and osteoclast-like cells in vitro.

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  • 1Center for Musculoskeletal Surgery, Charité - Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Bone-forming osteoblasts and bone-resorbing osteoclasts play an important role during maintenance, adaptation and healing of bone, and both cell types are influenced by physical activity. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of a narrow mechanical stimulation window on osteoblast- and osteoclast-like cells. Primary human cells were cultured on a bone-like structure (dentine) and three-point bending with approximately 1,100 microstrain was applied to the dentine at varying frequencies (0.1 and 0.3 Hz) and duration (1, 3 and 5 min daily over 5 days) resulting in different patterns of mechanical stimulation of osteoblast- and osteoclast-like cells. The longest stimulation (5 min at 0.1 Hz) induced a significant increase in osteoblast alkaline phosphatase activity and a significant decrease in osteoprotegerin (OPG) production, and resulted in a significant increase in the soluble receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand (sRANKL)/OPG ratio towards sRANKL in comparison to the unstimulated osteoblast-like cells. All stimulations caused a significant decrease in collagen type 1 synthesis. Stimulation for 1 min at 0.3 Hz decreased the fusion and resorption activity of the osteoclast-like cells. These results demonstrate a direct effect of mechanical stimuli on osteoblast-like cells as well as on osteoclast formation and activity in vitro. The change in the sRANKL/OPG ratio towards the stimulation of osteoclastogenesis stresses the necessity to investigate the effect of the same stimulation parameter on the co-culture of both cell types.

Copyright 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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