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Bone cells' branches sense stimulation, when to make new bone
Date:7/20/2010

ntly multidisciplinary problem," said co-author Daniel P. Nicolella, Ph.D., institute engineer in the Mechanics and Materials Section at Southwest Research Institute. "We determined the mechanical stresses applied to the osteocytes in these experiments so that they can be compared to the mechanical signals predicted to occur within the skeleton during routine physical activities."

Toll of osteoporosis

Approximately 8 million women and 2 million men have osteoporosis in the U.S. Affected bone becomes brittle and can fracture with minor falls. In severe cases, a bone can even break from a sneeze. Another 34 million Americans are estimated to have low bone mass and are at higher risk for osteoporosis. (Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/diseasefacts.htm)

Bone loss has been observed in astronauts who have spent a long time in space. Greater understanding of the process of bone remodeling could also aid in the discovery of solutions for the degenerative joint disease osteoarthritis.

Intriguing idea

Apart from its clinical implications, the study is intriguing because it "brings in a novel thought that different parts of a single cell can have different material and sensory properties," Dr. Jiang said. "Different parts of the cell can react differently to the same stimulus. This is a very important fact to consider while studying cellular signaling and regulatory mechanisms."


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Contact: Will Sansom
sansom@uthscsa.edu
210-567-2579
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Source:Eurekalert

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