Osteocytes as Mechanosensory Cells: From Extracellular Structure to Intracellular Signals
Osteocytes embedded in the lacunae of mineralized matrix in bone are thought to be mechanosensory cells that translate mechanical strain into biochemical signals, which regulate bone modeling and remodeling through their extensive communication network. However, the detailed mechanism of mechanotransduction in osteocytes has not been revealed. Based on previous studies on the unique lacunar-canaliculi structure with the osteocytic processes in osteocytes, and the sphingosine-1-phosphate cascade regulating the myogenic response that is very similar to the mechanobiological process in bone, we hypothesized that 1) the osteocytic processes in the canaliculi function as mechanosensor in osteocytic bone mechanotransduction; 2) S1P cascade might also be involved in osteocyte-regulated mechanotransduction. To systematically investigate our hypothesis, we employed the Microfluidic Chamber System (MCS) design that models the in vivo lacunar-canalicular structure and osteocytic properties. This MSC structure will allow us to better study the mechanotransduction in osteocytes.