Purpose of Review: Osteocytes are responsible for mechanosensing and mechanotransduction in bone and play a crucial role in bone homeostasis. They are embedded in a calcified collagenous matrix and connected with each other through the lacuno-canalicular network. Due to this specific native environment, it is a challenge to isolate primary osteocytes without losing their specific characteristics in vitro. This review summarizes the commonly used and recently established models to study the function of osteocytes in vitro. Recent Findings: Osteocytes are mostly studied in monolayer culture, but recently, 3D models of osteocyte-like cells and primary osteocytes in vitro have been established as well. These models mimic the native environment of osteocytes and show superior osteocyte morphology and behavior, enabling the development of human disease models. Summary: Osteocyte-like cell lines as well as primary osteocytes isolated from bone are widely used to study the role of osteocytes in bone homeostasis. Both cells lines and primary cells are cultured in 2D-monolayer and 3D-models. The use of these models and their advantages and shortcomings are discussed in this review.
Zhang, C., Bakker, A. D., Klein-Nulend, J., & Bravenboer, N. (2019). Studies on Osteocytes in Their 3D Native Matrix Versus 2D In Vitro Models. Current osteoporosis reports, 17(4), 207-216. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11914-019-00521-1