There are several types of cells constituting the typical bone:
- Osteoblasts are mononucleate bone-forming cells that descend from osteoprogenitor cells. They are located on the surface of osteoid seams and make a protein mixture known as osteoid, which mineralizes to become bone. The osteiod seam is a narrow region of newly formed organic matrix, not yet mineralized, located on the surface of a bone. Osteoid is primarily composed of Type I collagen. Osteoblasts also manufacture hormones, such as prostaglandins, to act on the bone itself. They robustly produce alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme that has a role in the mineralisation of bone, as well as many matrix proteins. Osteoblasts are the immature bone cells, and eventually become entrapped in the bone matrix to become osteocytes- the mature bone cell.
- Bone lining cells are essentially inactive osteoblasts. They cover all of the available bone surface and function as a barrier for certain ions.
- Osteocytes originate from osteoblasts that have migrated into and become trapped and surrounded by bone matrix that they themselves produce. The spaces they occupy are known as lacunae. Osteocytes have many processes that reach out to meet osteoblasts and other osteocytes probably for the purposes of communication. Their functions include, to varying degrees: formation of bone; matrix maintenance; and calcium homeostasis. They have also been shown to act as mechano-sensory receptors — regulating the bone's response to stress and mechanical load. They are mature bone cells.
- Osteoclasts are the cells responsible for bone resorption, thus they break down bone. New bone is then formed by the osteoblasts (remodeling of bone to reduce its volume). Osteoclasts are large, multinucleated cells located on bone surfaces in what are called Howship's lacunae or resorption pits. These lacunae, or resorption pits, are left behind after the breakdown of the bone surface. Because the osteoclasts are derived from a monocyte stem-cell lineage, they are equipped with phagocytic-like mechanisms similar to circulating macrophages. Osteoclasts mature and/or migrate to discrete bone surfaces. Upon arrival, active enzymes, such as tartrate resistant acid phosphatase, are secreted against the mineral substrate.
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