Chapter: Bone Mechanobiology in Health and Disease

Bone demonstrates a remarkable ability to renew itself, adapt its architecture, and repair fractures to maintain strength throughout life. Mechanobiology, the study of how external mechanical loading on the bone is transferred to bone cells and transduced into a biochemical cascade that ultimately results in macroscopic changes in bone structure, is crucial to the adaptive and regenerative nature of bone. This mechanobiological process is orchestrated through a compliment of specialized cells from bone surfaces and marrow, acting in concert to maintain bone homeostasis. However, certain pathological diseases can lead to bone fractures that do not repair or cause immobility, severe pain, and deformity. Mechanical forces play a critical role in the health of the bone, and thus, the inability to sense or transduce these mechanical signals (mechanotransduction) is associated with many bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, metastatic bone disease, and osteoarthritis, thus presenting potential avenues to new mechanobiological treatments for these pathologies. This chapter was co-authored with Prof Laoise McNamara and describes the state-of-the-art in the study of bone mechanobiology.