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J Clin Pathol 61:577-587 doi:10.1136/jcp.2007.048868
  • Review

The cell biology of bone metabolism

  1. H K Datta1,
  2. W F Ng1,
  3. J A Walker2,
  4. S P Tuck3,
  5. S S Varanasi1
  1. 1
    Institute of Cellular Medicine, Musculoskeletal Research Group, The Medical School, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Pathology, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds, UK
  3. 3
    James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK
  1. Dr H K Datta, Institute of Cellular Medicine, School of Clinical & Laboratory Sciences, The Medical School, University of Newcastle, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK; h.k.datta{at}ncl.ac.uk
  • Accepted 13 November 2007

Abstract

Contrary to the commonly held misconception, bone is a relatively dynamic organ that undergoes significant turnover as compared to other organs in the body. This review details how complex intercellular signalling, between the osteoprogenitor cells and mature osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts, regulates and balances activities of bone cells during remodelling and growth. Both systemic, as well as local autocrine and paracrine factors are discussed. A number of recent important advances in cell biology of bone have led to a new paradigm in understanding of the subject. In this regard, the interaction between the immune system and bone cells is of particular interest, leading to the emergence of a new discipline termed osteoimmunology. The role of lymphocytes and a number of key cytokines in the regulation of osteoclastogenesis and osteoblast function is critically examined. The intracellular signalling regulating key cellular pathways involved in cell differentiation and activity are outlined. The emerging evidence of osteocytes as mechanosensors as well as regulators of mineralisation is discussed.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None declared.