Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Osteoprogenitor cells reside in the bone marrow before differentiating into plump, polygonal osteoblasts on the bone surface. By an unknown mechanism some of these cells are destined to become osteocytes, whereas some become lining cells, and some undergo apoptosis. Osteoblasts, osteoid-osteocytes, and osteocytes may play distinct roles in the initiation and regulation of bone matrix mineralization. Evidence is mounting that osteocytes can conduct and control both bone resorption and bone formation. Osteocyte apoptosis is an orderly process that can occur at sites of microdamage. It is proposed that dying osteocytes send signals to osteoclasts for their removal and the repair of microdamage. Osteocyte cell death can occur in association with pathological conditions, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, leading to increased skeletal fragility. Osteocytes most likely play a role not only in bone disease but also in disease of other organs. Bone diseases include osteoporosis, bone loss with aging, hypophosphatemic rickets, and certain genetic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrimer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781119266594
ISBN (Print)9781119266563
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Bone disease
  • Bone resorption
  • Cell death
  • Osteoclasts
  • Osteocyte apoptosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Bonewald, L. (2018). Osteocytes. In Primer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism (pp. 38-45). wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119266594.ch5