Bone remodeling

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Bone tissue is removed by osteoclasts, and then new bone tissue is formed by osteoblasts. Both processes utilize cytokine (TGF-β, IGF) signalling.

Bone remodeling (or bone metabolism) is a lifelong process where mature bone tissue is removed from the skeleton (a process called bone resorption) and new bone tissue is formed (a process called ossification or new bone formation). These processes also control the reshaping or replacement of bone following injuries like fractures but also micro-damage, which occurs during normal activity. Remodeling responds also to functional demands of the mechanical loading.

In the first year of life, almost 100% of the skeleton is replaced. In adults, remodeling proceeds at about 10% per year.[1]

An imbalance in the regulation of bone remodeling's two sub-processes, bone resorption and bone formation, results in many metabolic bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.[2]


The 2 types of cells responsible for bone metabolism are known as osteoblasts, which secrete new bone, and osteoclasts which break bone down. The structure of bones as well as adequate supply of calcium requires close cooperation between these two types of cells. It relies on complex signaling pathways to achieve proper rates of growth and differentiation. These signaling pathways include the action of several hormones, including parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, growth hormone, steroids, and calcitonin, as well as several cytokines. It is in this way that the body is able to maintain proper levels of calcium required for physiological processes.

Subsequent to appropriate signaling, osteoclasts move to resorb the surface of the bone, followed by deposition of bone by osteoblasts. Together, the cells that are responsible for bone remodeling are known as the basic multicellular unit (BMU), and the temporal duration (i.e. lifespan) of the BMU is referred to as the bone remodeling period.[3]


See also[edit]

Wolff's law


  1. ^ Wheeless Textbook
  2. ^ Online Medical Dictionary
  3. ^ Pietrzak, WS. Musculoskeletal tissue regeneration: biological materials and methods, Humana Press, 2008. ISBN 1-58829-909-0 page 48