The mammalian skeleton stores calcium and phosphate ions in bone matrix. Osteocytes in osteocyte lacunae extend numerous dendrites into canaliculi less than a micron in diameter and which are distributed throughout bone matrix. Although osteoclasts are the primary bone-resorbing cells, osteocytes also reportedly dissolve hydroxyapatite at peri-lacunar bone matrix. However, robust three-dimensional evidence for peri-canalicular bone mineral dissolution has been lacking. Here we applied a previously reported Talbot-defocus multiscan tomography method for synchrotron X-ray microscopy and analyzed the degree of bone mineralization in mouse cortical bone around the lacuno-canalicular network, which is connected both to blood vessels and the peri- and endosteum. We detected cylindrical low mineral density regions spreading around canaliculi derived from a subset of osteocytes. Transmission electron microscopy revealed both intact and demineralized bone matrix around the canaliculus. Peri-canalicular low mineral density regions were also observed in osteopetrotic mice lacking osteoclasts, indicating that osteoclasts are dispensable for peri-canalicular demineralization. These data suggest demineralization can occur from within bone through the canalicular system, and that peri-canalicular demineralization occurs not uniformly but directed by individual osteocytes. Blockade of peri-canalicular demineralization may be a therapeutic strategy to increase bone mass and quality.
Keywords: Demineralization/remineralization; Mineral metabolism; Osteocyte canaliculus; Osteocytic osteolysis; Synchrotron radiation; Talbot-defocus multiscan tomography.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.