A Quick And Painless Lesson On Osteoblasts And Osteoporosis


Unless you have a very specific job, osteoblasts probably don’t come up in conversation much. More than likely, the last time they came to mind was during a biology test years (maybe decades) ago.

It’s ok. The information wasn’t necessary until now. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with Osteoporosis, are at risk for it, or are trying to be proactive, then knowing a little about osteoblasts and their role in your bone health is very important.

And you thought you were done with school.

Don’t worry, though. There’s no pop quiz and you won’t be graded. We’ll just take a trip down memory lane, brush up on a few science terms, and maybe learn a thing or two in the process. It will be worth it.

Scientific Terms

Throwback to science class when the teacher would hand out a list of terms that would be in the next chapter. These definitions from Biology-online will help lay the foundation.

  • Fibroblasts

Cells that provide a framework for many tissues; produce and secrete fibers that help heal wounds and repair tissue

  • Osteoblasts

Bone cells that come from fibroblasts; help with bone production

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  • Osteocytes

Cells that help maintain bone structure

  • Osteoclasts

Large bone cells; help bone absorption and removal by dissolving the fibers and matrix of the bone

Tiny pits and grooves in bone that are being resorbed by osteoclasts

See? Easy. That will make this next part go quick.

Bone Growth 101

Bone tissue is constantly renewing itself. In one week, 5-7% of all bone mass has been recycled and in 10 years the adult skeleton has almost completely replaced itself. This process is controlled by bone metabolism and, when balanced, keeps bones strong. In healthy adults, the removal rate is the same as the growth rate. As people age, this can become imbalanced and results in bone loss and disease.

Osteoblasts vs. Osteoclasts

The University of Washington helps expand on the roles these cells play in bone remodeling.

Osteoblasts come from the bone marrow and work together to build new bone, or osteoid, from collagen and protein. When they’re done filling a cavity, they flatten out and line the bone. They are then called lining cells. Their new job is to control calcium and to make a protein that activates the osteoclasts.

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Osteoclasts also come from the bone marrow. Their job is to dissolve the bone and absorb it into the cell, further breaking it down and recycling the amino acids, calcium, and phosphates.

Forming bone takes longer than resorption (the absorbing of the bone), so any tip of the scales results in bone weakening (Osteopenia) and a higher risk of fracture (Osteoporosis).

Treatments Using Osteoblasts And Osteoclasts

Scientists use this information to help treat Osteoporosis. Most prescription medications are only able to slow the resorption process. This is helpful in preventing bone loss but does not produce new bone.

There are two main types of medications used in treating Osteoporosis: antiresorptives (slows osteoclasts, hindering bone loss) and anabolic (encourages bone growth and density. Antiresorptives are more common, while anabolics are usually reserved for more severe cases because of the possible side effects and length of treatment available. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only approves the use of anabolics for up to two years. At that time, the patient must switch to an antiresorptive.

Simple Steps

There are many treatments available to help with Osteoporosis, but the most powerful treatment can be what you do for yourself. Remember the simple things you can do every day that will improve your health, and don’t be afraid to live life to the fullest. Ostego will help. Join us today!

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