Apoptotic osteocytes and the control of targeted bone resorption

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Studies from the 1950s and 1960s already recognize the fact that osteocytes, although long living cells, die, as evidenced by accumulation of osteocytic lacunae devoid of cells. More recently, it was demonstrated that these cells die by apoptosis. The rate of osteocyte apoptosis is regulated by the age of the bone, as well as by systemic hormones, local growth factors, cytokines, pharmacological agents, and mechanical forces. Apoptotic osteocytes, in turn, recruit osteoclasts to initiate targeted bone resorption. This results in the removal of "dead" bone and may improve the mechanical properties of the skeleton. However, the molecular regulators of osteocyte survival and targeted bone remodeling are not completely known. In this review, the current knowledge on the molecular mechanism that lead to osteocyte death or survival, and the signals that mediate targeted bone resorption is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent osteoporosis reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Bone remodeling
  • Osteocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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