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Home > E. Pathology by systems > Locomotory system > Bones > osteocytes


Sunday 5 February 2006

Osteocytes are more numerous than any other bone-forming cell and outnumber osteoblasts by about 10:1. Although encased by bone, they communicate with each other and with surface cells via an intricate network of tunnels through the matrix known as canaliculi.

The osteocytic cell processes traverse the canaliculi, and their contacts along gap junctions allow the transfer of surface membrane potentials and substrates.

The large number of osteocytic processes and their distribution throughout bone tissue enable them to be the key cells in several biologic processes.

Studies have shown that this network may be important in controlling the second-to-second fluctuations in serum calcium and phosphorus levels by altering the concentration of these minerals in the local extracellular fluid compartment.

Osteocytes also can detect mechanical forces and translate them into biologic activity, including the release of chemical mediators by signal transduction pathways, which activate second messengers such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).

See also

- osseous cells (bone cells)