Functional Impairment of Bone Formation in the Pathogenesis of Osteoporosis: The Bone Marrow Regenerative Competence
The skeleton is a high-renewal organ that undergoes ongoing cycles of remodeling. The regenerative bone formation arm ultimately declines in the aging, postmenopausal skeleton, but current therapies do not adequately address this deficit. Bone marrow is the primary source of the skeletal anabolic response and the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which give rise to bone matrix-producing osteoblasts. The identity of these stem cells is emerging, but it now appears that the term ‘MSC’ has often been misapplied to the bone marrow stromal cell (BMSC), a progeny of the MSC. Nevertheless, the changes in BMSC phenotype associated with age and estrogen depletion likely contribute to the attenuated regenerative competence of the marrow and may reflect alterations in MSC phenotype. Here we summarize current concepts in bone marrow MSC identity, and within this context, review recent observations on changes in bone marrow population dynamics associated with aging and menopause.