Quantitative Evaluation of Osteocyte Morphology and Bone Anisotropic Extracellular Matrix in Rat Femur

Takuya Ishimoto, Keita Kawahara, Aira Matsugaki, Hiroshi Kamioka, Takayoshi Nakano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Osteocytes are believed to play a crucial role in mechanosensation and mechanotransduction which are important for maintenance of mechanical integrity of bone. Recent investigations have revealed that the preferential orientation of bone extracellular matrix (ECM) mainly composed of collagen fibers and apatite crystallites is one of the important determinants of bone mechanical integrity. However, the relationship between osteocytes and ECM orientation remains unclear. In this study, the association between ECM orientation and anisotropy in the osteocyte lacuno-canalicular system, which is thought to be optimized along with the mechanical stimuli, was investigated using male rat femur. The degree of ECM orientation along the femur longitudinal axis was significantly and positively correlated with the anisotropic features of the osteocyte lacunae and canaliculi. At the femur middiaphysis, there are the osteocytes with lacunae that highly aligned along the bone long axis (principal stress direction) and canaliculi that preferentially extended perpendicular to the bone long axis, and the highest degree of apatite c-axis orientation along the bone long axis was shown. Based on these data, we propose a model in which osteocytes can change their lacuno-canalicular architecture depending on the mechanical environment so that they can become more susceptible to mechanical stimuli via fluid flow in the canalicular channel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-444
Number of pages11
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Anisotropy
  • Apatite orientation
  • Bone quality
  • Lacno-canalicular system
  • Osteocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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