Osteocytes: The master cells in bone remodelling

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HighlightsOsteocytes regulate bone formation through a number of interacting signalling pathways.Osteocytes regulate bone resorption through controlling osteoclast activity and directly through perilacunar remodelling.Osteocytes represent attractive therapeutic targets for bone diseases.Bone remodelling is an essential process for shaping and maintaining bone mass in the mature skeleton. During our lifetime bone is constantly being removed by osteoclasts and new bone is formed by osteoblasts. The activities of osteoclasts and osteoblasts must be regulated under a strict balance to ensure that bone homeostasis is maintained. Osteocytes, which form an extensive, multi-functional syncytium throughout the bone, are increasingly considered to be the cells that maintain this balance. Current research is elucidating key signalling pathways by which the osteocyte exerts control over the other cell types in bone and over its own activities, and potential ways in which these pathways may be exploited therapeutically.

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