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J Nutr. 1995 Jul;125(7 Suppl):2020S-2023S.

Function of osteocytes in bone--their role in mechanotransduction.

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  • 1Department of Oral Cell Biology, ACTA-Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Although osteocytes are by far the most abundant cell type of bone, they are least understood in terms of function and regulation. Previous studies have concentrated on their possible role as mobilizers of bone calcium, via the process of osteocytic osteolysis. Currently, however, their possible involvement in mechanical adaptation, the process whereby bone tissue maintains maximal functional strength with minimal bone mass, is discussed. We have recently obtained experimental evidence that osteocytes are the mechanosensory cells of bone, involved in the transduction of mechanical loads into biochemical signals. Our results support the hypothesis that flow of fluid through the lacunar-canalicular system as a result of loading provides the physical signal that activates the cells.

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