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Biology of bone and how it orchestrates the form and function of the skeleton


The principal role of the skeleton is to provide structural support for the body. While the skeleton also serves as the body's mineral reservoir, the mineralized structure is the very basis of posture, opposes muscular contraction resulting in motion, withstands functional load bearing, and protects internal organs. Although the mass and morphology of the skeleton is defined, to some extent, by genetic determinants, it is the tissue's ability to remodel – the local resorption and formation of bone – which is responsible for achieving this intricate balance between competing responsibilities. The aim of this review is to address bone's form–function relationship, beginning with extensive research in the musculoskeletal disciplines,and focusing on several recent cellular and molecular discoveries which help understand the complex interdependence of bone cells, growth factors, physical stimuli, metabolic demands, and structural responsibilities. With a clinical and spine-oriented audience in mind, the principles of bone cell and molecular biology and physiology are presented, and an attempt has been made to incorporate epidemiologic data and therapeutic implications. Bone research remains interdisciplinary by nature, and a deeper understanding of bone biology will ultimately lead to advances in the treatment of diseases and injuries to bone itself.

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Sommerfeldt, .D., Rubin, .C. Biology of bone and how it orchestrates the form and function of the skeleton. Eur Spine J 10 (Suppl 2), S86–S95 (2001).

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  • Bone Skeleton Orthopedic Growth Factors Morphology Osteoblasts Osteoclasts Osteocytes Remodeling