OsteoMacs: Key players around bone biomaterials

Biomaterials. 2016 Mar;82:1-19. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.12.017. Epub 2015 Dec 20.


Osteal macrophages (OsteoMacs) are a special subtype of macrophage residing in bony tissues. Interesting findings from basic research have pointed to their vast and substantial roles in bone biology by demonstrating their key function in bone formation and remodeling. Despite these essential findings, much less information is available concerning their response to a variety of biomaterials used for bone regeneration with the majority of investigation primarily focused on their role during the foreign body reaction. With respect to biomaterials, it is well known that cells derived from the monocyte/macrophage lineage are one of the first cell types in contact with implanted biomaterials. Here they demonstrate extremely plastic phenotypes with the ability to differentiate towards classical M1 or M2 macrophages, or subsequently fuse into osteoclasts or multinucleated giant cells (MNGCs). These MNGCs have previously been characterized as foreign body giant cells and associated with biomaterial rejection, however more recently their phenotypes have been implicated with wound healing and tissue regeneration by studies demonstrating their expression of key M2 markers around biomaterials. With such contrasting hypotheses, it becomes essential to better understand their roles to improve the development of osteo-compatible and osteo-promotive biomaterials. This review article expresses the necessity to further study OsteoMacs and MNGCs to understand their function in bone biomaterial tissue integration including dental/orthopedic implants and bone grafting materials.

Keywords: Biomaterial integration; Bone regeneration; Foreign body cells; Macrophage; Multi-nucleated giant cells; OsteoMacs; Osteoimmunology; Tissue response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Regeneration / immunology
  • Bone Substitutes / chemistry*
  • Bone-Implant Interface / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Giant Cells / cytology*
  • Giant Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Osseointegration / immunology*


  • Bone Substitutes