Inter-site Variability of the Human Osteocyte Lacunar Network: Implications for Bone Quality

  • Petar Milovanovic
  • Björn BusseEmail author
Osteocytes (J Klein Nulend, Section editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Osteocytes


Purpose of Review

This article provides a review on the variability of the osteocyte lacunar network in the human skeleton. It highlights characteristics of the osteocyte lacunar network in relation to different skeletal sites and fracture susceptibility.

Recent Findings

Application of 2D analyses (quantitative backscattered electron microscopy, histology, confocal laser scanning microscopy) and 3D reconstructions (microcomputed tomography and synchrotron radiation microcomputed tomography) provides extended high-resolution information on osteocyte lacunar properties in individuals of various age (fetal, children’s growth, elderly), sex, and disease states with increased fracture risk.


Recent findings on the distribution of osteocytes in the human skeleton are reviewed. Quantitative data highlighting the variability of the osteocyte lacunar network is presented with special emphasis on site specificity and maintenance of bone health. The causes and consequences of heterogeneous distribution of osteocyte lacunae both within specific regions of interest and on the skeletal level are reviewed and linked to differential bone quality factors and fracture susceptibility.


Osteocyte distribution Inter-site differences Osteocyte lacunar number Mechanical loading Bone strength Aging Bone development 



The authors acknowledge the support from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Serbian Ministry of Education and Science (III45005).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

P. Milovanovic and B. Busse declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Osteology and BiomechanicsUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Laboratory for Anthropology and Skeletal Biology, Institute of Anatomy, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  3. 3.Forum Medical Technology Health Hamburg (FMTHH), Heisenberg Research Group of Biomedical SciencesUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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