Is There a Governing Role of Osteocytes in Bone Tissue Regeneration?

Wei Cao, Marco N. Helder, Nathalie Bravenboer, Gang Wu, Jianfeng Jin, Christiaan M. ten Bruggenkate, Jenneke Klein-Nulend, Engelbert A.J.M. Schulten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose of Review: Bone regeneration plays an important role in contemporary clinical treatment. Bone tissue engineering should result in successful bone regeneration to restore congenital or acquired bone defects in the human skeleton. Osteocytes are thought to have a governing role in bone remodeling by regulating osteoclast and osteoblast activity, and thus bone loss and formation. In this review, we address the so far largely unknown role osteocytes may play in bone tissue regeneration. Recent Findings: Osteocytes release biochemical signaling molecules involved in bone remodeling such as prostaglandins, nitric oxide, Wnts, and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Treatment of mesenchymal stem cells in bone tissue engineering with prostaglandins (e.g., PGE2, PGI2, PGF), nitric oxide, IGF-1, or Wnts (e.g., Wnt3a) improves osteogenesis. Summary: This review provides an overview of the functions of osteocytes in bone tissue, their interaction with other bone cells, and their role in bone remodeling. We postulate that osteocytes may have a pivotal role in bone regeneration as well, and consequently that the bone regeneration process may be improved effectively and rapidly if osteocytes are optimally used and stimulated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-550
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent osteoporosis reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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