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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2001 Nov;281(5):C1635-41.

Flow-induced calcium oscillations in rat osteoblasts are age, loading frequency, and shear stress dependent.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295, USA.


Bone adaptation to mechanical loading is dependent on age and the frequency and magnitude of loading. It is believed that load-induced fluid flow in the porous spaces of bone is an important signal that influences bone cell metabolism and bone adaptation. We used fluid flow-induced shear stress as a mechanical stimulus to study intracellular calcium (Ca) signaling in rat osteoblastic cells (ROB) isolated from young, mature, and old animals. Fluid flow produced higher magnitude and more abundant [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations than spontaneous oscillations, suggesting that flow-induced Ca signaling encodes a different cellular message than spontaneous oscillations. ROB from old rats showed less basal [Ca(2+)](i) activity and were less responsive to fluid flow. Cells were more responsive to 0.2 Hz than to 1 or 2 Hz and to 2 Pa than to 1 Pa. These data suggest that the frequency and magnitude of mechanical loading may be encoded by the percentage of cells displaying [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations but that the ability to transduce this information may be altered with age.

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