Osteoblasts and osteocytes respond differently to oscillatory and unidirectional fluid flow profiles

Suzanne M. Ponik, Jason W. Triplett, Fredrick M. Pavalko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Scopus citations


Bone cells subjected to mechanical loading by fluid shear stress undergo significant architectural and biochemical changes. The models of shear stress used to analyze the effects of loading bone cells in vitro include both oscillatory and unidirectional fluid shear profiles. Although the fluid flow profile experienced by cells within bone is most likely oscillatory in nature, to date there have been few direct comparisons of how bone cells respond to these two fluid flow profiles. In this study we evaluated morphologic and biochemical responses to a time course of unidirectional and oscillatory fluid flow in two commonly used bone cell lines, MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts and MLO-Y4 osteocytes. We determined that stress fibers formed and aligned with in osteoblasts after 1 h of unidirectional fluid flow, but this response was not observed until greater than 5 h of oscillatory fluid flow. Despite the delay in stress fiber formation, oscillatory and unidirectional fluid flow profiles elicited similar temporal effects on the induction of both cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) and osteopontin protein expression in osteoblasts. Interestingly, MLO-Y4 osteocytes formed organized stress fibers after exposure to 24 h of unidirectional shear stress, while the number of dendritic processes per cell increased along with Cox-2 protein levels after 24 h of oscillatory shear stress. Despite these differences, both flow profiles significantly altered osteopontin levels in MLO-Y4 osteocytes. Together these results demonstrate that the profile of fluid shear can induce significantly different responses from osteoblasts and osteocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-807
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 15 2007


  • Cyclooxygenase-2
  • Morphology
  • Osteopontin
  • Shear stress
  • Stress fibers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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