Remodeling and Vascular Spaces in Bone



In recent years, we have come to appreciate that the close association between bone and vasculature plays a pivotal role in the regulation of bone remodeling and fracture repair. In 2001, Hauge et al. characterized a specialized vascular structure, the bone remodeling compartment (BRC), and showed that the outer lining of this compartment was made up of flattened cells, displaying all the characteristics of lining cells in bone. A decrease in bone turnover leads to a decrease in surfaces covered with remodeling compartments, whereas increased turnover causes an increase. Immunoreactivity for all major osteotropic growth factors and cytokines including osteoprotegerin (OPG) and RANKL has been shown in the cells lining the BRC, which makes the BRC the structure of choice for coupling between resorption and formation. The secretion of these factors inside a confined space separated from the bone marrow would facilitate local regulation of the remodeling process without interference from growth factors secreted by blood cells in the marrow space. The BRC creates an environment where cells inside the structure are exposed to denuded bone, which may enable direct cellular interactions with integrins and other matrix factors known to regulate osteoclast/osteoblast activity. However, the denuded bone surface inside the BRC also constitutes an ideal environment for the seeding of bone metastases, known to have high affinity for bone matrix. Reduction in BRC space brought about by antiresorptive therapies such as bisphosphonates reduce the number of skeletal events in advanced cancer, whereas an increase in BRC space induced by remodeling activators like PTH may increase the bone metastatic burden. The BRC has only been characterized in detail in trabecular bone; there is, however, evidence that a similar structure may exist in cortical bone, but further characterization is needed.