Modulating osteoclasts with nanoparticles: A path for osteoporosis management?

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol. 2023 Jul-Aug;15(4):e1885. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1885. Epub 2023 Apr 10.


Osteoclasts are the cells responsible for the bone resorption process during bone remodeling. In a healthy situation, this process results from an equilibrium between new matrix formation by osteoblast and matrix resorption by osteoclast. Osteoporosis (OP) is a systemic bone disease characterized by a decreased bone mass density and alterations in bone microarchitecture, increasing fracture predisposition. Despite the variety of available therapies for OP management there is a growing gap in its treatment associated to the low patients' adherence owing to concerns related with long-term efficacy or safety. This makes the development of new and safe treatments necessary. Among the newly developed strategies, the use of synthetic and natural nanoparticles to modulate osteoclasts differentiation, activity, apoptosis or crosstalk with osteoblasts have arisen. Synthetic nanoparticles exert their therapeutic effect either by loading antiresorptive drugs or including molecules for osteoclasts gene regulation. Moreover, this control over osteoclasts can be improved by their targeting to bone extracellular matrix or osteoclast membranes. Furthermore, natural nanoparticles, also known as extracellular vesicles, have been identified to play a key role in bone homeostasis. Consequently, these systems have been widely studied to control osteoblasts and osteoclasts under variable environments. Additionally, the ability to bioengineer extracellular vesicles has allowed to obtain biomimetic systems with desirable characteristics as drug carriers for osteoclasts. The analyzed information reveals the possibility of modulating osteoclasts by different mechanisms through nanoparticles decreasing bone resorption. These findings suggest that controlling osteoclast activity using nanoparticles has the potential to improve osteoporosis management. This article is categorized under: Implantable Materials and Surgical Technologies > Nanomaterials and Implants Implantable Materials and Surgical Technologies > Nanotechnology in Tissue Repair and Replacement Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology.

Keywords: extracellular vesicles; nanoparticles; osteoclasts; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Resorption* / drug therapy
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles* / therapeutic use
  • Osteoblasts / physiology
  • Osteoclasts / physiology
  • Osteoporosis* / drug therapy