Changes in the osteocyte lacunocanalicular network with aging.


Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO 64108, United States of America. Electronic address: [Email]


Osteoporosis is an aging-related disease of reduced bone mass that is particularly prevalent in post-menopausal women, but also affects the aged male population and is associated with increased fracture risk. Osteoporosis is the result of an imbalance whereby bone formation by osteoblasts no longer keeps pace with resorption of bone by osteoclasts. Osteocytes are the most abundant cells in bone and, although previously thought to be quiescent, they are now known to be active, multifunctional cells that play a key role in the maintenance of bone mass by regulating both osteoblast and osteoclast activity. They are also thought to regulate bone mass through their role as mechanoresponsive cells in bone that coordinate adaptive responses to mechanical loading. Osteocytes form an extensive interconnected network throughout the mineralized bone matrix and receive their nutrients as well as hormones and signaling factors through the lacunocanalicular system. Several studies have shown that the extent and connectivity of the lacunocanalicular system and osteocyte networks degenerates in aged humans as well as in animal models of aging. It is also known that the bone anabolic response to loading is decreased with aging. This review summarizes recent research on the degenerative changes that occur in osteocytes and their lacunocanalicular system as a result of aging and discusses the implications for skeletal health and homeostasis as well as potential mechanisms that may underlie these degenerative changes. Since osteocytes are such key regulators of skeletal homeostasis, maintaining the health of the osteocyte network would seem critical for maintenance of bone health. Therefore, a more complete understanding of the structure and function of the osteocyte network, its lacunocanalicular system, and the degenerative changes that occur with aging should lead to advances in our understanding of age related bone loss and potentially lead to improved therapies.


Aging,Bone fragility,Dendrite degeneration,Osteocytes,Osteoporosis,

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