Signal Transduction and Mechanical Stress

Science's STKE  07 Sep 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 249, pp. re12
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2492004re12

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Bone undergoes a constant process of remodeling in which mass is retained or lost in response to the relative activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Weight-bearing exercise—which is critical for retaining skeletal integrity—promotes osteoblast function, whereas a lack of mechanical stimulation, as seen during spaceflight or prolonged bed rest, can lead to osteoporosis. Thus, understanding mechanotransduction at the cellular level is key to understanding basic bone biology and devising new treatments for osteoporosis. Various mechanical stimuli have been studied as in vitro model systems and have been shown to act through numerous signaling pathways to promote osteoblast activity. Here, we examine the various types of stress and the sequential response of transduction pathways that result in changes in gene expression and the ensuing proliferation of osteoblasts.

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