The proliferative and synthetic response of isolated calvarial bone cells of rats to cyclic biaxial mechanical strain


Isolated bone cells from the calvaria of newborn rats were grown in monolayer on polyurethane membranes in specially constructed culture chambers. These were subjected to cyclic biaxial mechanical strains of 0.02 per cent (200 microstrain), 0.04 per cent (400 microstrain), and 0.1 per cent (1000 microstrain) at a frequency of one hertz for periods ranging from fifteen minutes to seventy-two hours. DNA content, an index of proliferation, was significantly increased at a strain of 0.04 per cent applied for fifteen minutes and for twenty-four and forty-eight hours. DNA content was not increased at the other amplitudes of strain that were evaluated, nor was it increased after prolonged mechanical stimulation for forty-eight hours or longer. Synthesis of collagen, non-collagenous protein, and proteoglycan, as well as activity of alkaline phosphatase, all indicators of macromolecular synthesis, were significantly decreased at a strain of 0.04 per cent applied for fifteen minutes and for twenty-four, forty-eight, and seventy-two hours. Macromolecular synthesis was not affected by the other amplitudes of strain that were evaluated in this study. At a strain of 0.04 per cent, prostaglandin E2 content was significantly increased after five, fifteen, and thirty minutes of mechanical stimulation, whereas net cAMP content did not change significantly. This suggests that the described cellular events (increased proliferation and decreased macromolecular synthesis) that occur secondary to mechanical strain are mediated, at least in part, by prostaglandin E2. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Bone is exquisitely responsive to its mechanical environment. Knowing the manner in which isolated bone cells respond to mechanical strain and understanding the cellular mechanisms that are involved in translating mechanical strain to physiological response should enable us to understand bone-remodeling in its varied aspects as seen in clinical practice.

Publication Title

Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A