The osteocyte

J. Klein-Nulend, L. F. Bonewald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Tremendous progress has been made in discerning the function of osteocytes, long thought to be mechanosensors. Markers for osteocytes have been expanded to delineate early to late stages of osteocyte differentiation. Genomic profiling is a storehouse of information regarding the potential functions of these cells and their response to strain. Major functions include inhibition of bone formation through sclerostin but stimulation of bone formation through loading and prostaglandins; support of osteoclast formation through RANKL; regulation of phosphate homeostasis through Phex, Dmp1, and FGF23; and calcium homeostasis through parathyroid hormone. Molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in osteocyte mechanosensation have been identified. As osteocytes make up 90%-95% of all bone cells in the adult skeleton, collectively, any minor modulation of the entire population could have significant local and systemic effects on bone as well as other organs. Even with these advances we may still be seeing only “the tip of the iceberg” with regard to osteocyte function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Bone Biology
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9780128148419
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Bone remodeling
  • Fluid shear stress
  • Mechanosensation
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Osteocyte
  • Phosphate homeostasis
  • Sost/sclerostin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The osteocyte'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Klein-Nulend, J., & Bonewald, L. F. (2019). The osteocyte. In Principles of Bone Biology (pp. 133-162). Elsevier.