, Volume 14, Issue 5 Supplement, pp 43-45

Regulation of skeletal remodeling by biomechanical input

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Biophysical input generated during normal physiological loading is a major determinant of bone mass and morphology. Imposing load, such as in the dominant radius of tennis players, increases bone strength and size [1]. In states where skeletal loading is decreased, such as in prolonged bed rest or in paraplegics, bone resorption is initiated. In microgravity, astronauts lose bone mineral in the lower skeleton at a rate approaching 1.6% per month [2], a remarkable loss comparable to the yearly bone loss in postmenopausal women! The mechanisms by which functional loading regulates cellular activity in bone should be of great interest to bone biologists, and might be able to be mimicked by clinical manipulations aimed at maintaining bone health.

Living cells, by virtue of their attachment to each other and to their extracellular matrix substrate, are pulled and pushed within their microenvironment. In recent years, scientists have begun to realize that not only can cells sense