Osteocytes are believed to play a crucial role in mechanosensation and mechanotransduction which are important for maintenance of mechanical integrity of bone. Recent investigations have revealed that the preferential orientation of bone extracellular matrix (ECM) mainly composed of collagen fibers and apatite crystallites is one of the important determinants of bone mechanical integrity. However, the relationship between osteocytes and ECM orientation remains unclear. In this study, the association between ECM orientation and anisotropy in the osteocyte lacuno-canalicular system, which is thought to be optimized along with the mechanical stimuli, was investigated using male rat femur. The degree of ECM orientation along the femur longitudinal axis was significantly and positively correlated with the anisotropic features of the osteocyte lacunae and canaliculi. At the femur middiaphysis, there are the osteocytes with lacunae that highly aligned along the bone long axis (principal stress direction) and canaliculi that preferentially extended perpendicular to the bone long axis, and the highest degree of apatite c-axis orientation along the bone long axis was shown. Based on these data, we propose a model in which osteocytes can change their lacuno-canalicular architecture depending on the mechanical environment so that they can become more susceptible to mechanical stimuli via fluid flow in the canalicular channel.
- Apatite orientation
- Bone quality
- Lacno-canalicular system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine