➤ Osteocytes, derived from osteoblasts, reside within bone and communicate extensively with other bone cell populations to regulate bone metabolism. The mature osteocyte expresses the protein sclerostin, a negative regulator of bone mass.
➤ In normal physiologic states, the protein sclerostin acts on osteoblasts at the surface of bone and is differentially expressed in response to mechanical loading, inflammatory molecules such as prostaglandin E2, and hormones such as parathyroid hormone and estrogen.
➤ Pathologically, sclerostin dysregulation has been observed in osteoporosis-related fractures, failure of implant osseous integration, metastatic bone disease, and select genetic diseases of bone mass.
➤ An antibody that targets sclerostin, decreasing endogenous levels of sclerostin while increasing bone mineral density, is currently in phase-III clinical trials.
➤ The osteocyte has emerged as a versatile, indispensable bone cell. Its location within bone, extensive dendritic network, and close communication with systemic circulation and other bone cells produce many opportunities to treat a variety of orthopaedic conditions.