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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33903

Title: Osteocytes: Sensors of Mechanical Forces and Regulators of Bone Remodeling
Authors: Al-Dujaili, Saja Ali
Advisor: You, Lidan
Guenther, Axel
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Keywords: osteocyte
bone remodeling
mechanical loading
apoptosis
microfluidics
fluid shear stress
Issue Date: 6-Dec-2012
Abstract: Osteocytes make up the largest cell population in bone and are believed to be the main mechanosensory bone cells. During mechanical disuse and overuse, osteocyte viability is compromised and is found to be co-localized with increased osteoclastic bone resorption. Osteoclasts are recruited to remodel sites of apoptosis or bone microdamage; however, it is unclear whether the apoptotic or neighbouring healthy osteocytes are responsible for targeted bone remodeling. I hypothesized that apoptotic osteocytes are: (a) directly responsible for initiating bone remodeling by recruiting osteoclast precursors and directing osteoclast differentiation, and (b) indirectly responsible by signaling to nearby healthy osteocytes that, in turn, regulate osteoclastogenesis. In this in vitro study, apoptotic osteocytes were found to increase osteoclast precursor migration and osteoclast formation. Inhibition of the osteoclastogenic protein, receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL), in conditioned medium abolished the osteoclastogenic effect of apoptotic osteocytes. Healthy osteocytes surrounded by apoptotic regions were modeled by applying apoptotic osteocyte conditioned medium to healthy osteocytes. These cells also promoted osteoclastogenesis, and had increased expression of macrophage colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Inhibition of these factors abrogated the pro-osteoclastic effect of healthy osteocytes conditioned by apoptotic osteocytes. These findings support the hypothesis that apoptotic osteocytes directly and indirectly, by signaling to nearby healthy osteocytes, initiate osteoclastogenesis. One limitation of our and other conventional in vitro models is the lack of real-time cell communication and physiologically-relevant mechanical environment. Using a microfluidics approach, a miniature fluid shear delivery system was created for in vitro osteocyte cultures. The purpose of this microsystem was to increase control of the cell microenvironment for subsequent integration into scalable screening platforms or co-culture systems for studying osteocyte mechanobiology under physiological loading conditions. Fluid shear stress was periodically applied without external pumping using a deflecting elastomer membrane, where up to 2 Pa of oscillating shear stress was possible by manipulating membrane dimensions. Osteocyte culture, viability and calcium response were demonstrated in the microdevice. Further studies should attempt to characterize calcium signaling in osteocytes which, using a conventional macro-scale system, was found to dependent on cell-cell communication.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33903
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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