Forceful mastication activates osteocytes and builds a stout jawbone

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 20;9(1):4404. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40463-3.


Bone undergoes a constant reconstruction process of resorption and formation called bone remodeling, so that it can endure mechanical loading. During food ingestion, masticatory muscles generate the required masticatory force. The magnitude of applied masticatory force has long been believed to be closely correlated with the shape of the jawbone. However, both the mechanism underlying this correlation and evidence of causation remain largely to be determined. Here, we established a novel mouse model of increased mastication in which mice were fed with a hard diet (HD) to elicit greater masticatory force. A novel in silico computer simulation indicated that the masticatory load onto the jawbone leads to the typical bone profile seen in the individuals with strong masticatory force, which was confirmed by in vivo micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) analyses. Mechanistically, increased mastication induced Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and suppressed sclerostin in osteocytes. IGF-1 enhanced osteoblastogenesis of the cells derived from tendon. Together, these findings indicate that the osteocytes balance the cytokine expression upon the mechanical loading of increased mastication, in order to enhance bone formation. This bone formation leads to morphological change in the jawbone, so that the bone adapts to the mechanical environment to which it is exposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bite Force
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Mandible / metabolism
  • Mandible / physiology*
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Osteocytes / metabolism
  • Osteocytes / physiology*
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • X-Ray Microtomography / methods


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I