Bone Turnover and Renewal Explained

The human body is a marvel of nature, constantly undergoing changes and adaptations to maintain optimal function. One such dynamic process is bone turnover, also known as bone remodeling. Contrary to common belief, bone is not a static tissue. It is a living tissue that continually modifies and repairs itself.

Understanding Bone Turnover

Bone turnover is a cyclical process where older bone tissue is removed and replaced with new, younger tissue. This process involves two main stages:

  1. Osteogenesis: the formation of bone tissue.
  2. Resorption: the disintegration of bone tissue.

There are two types of cells that are responsible for bone renewal:

  1. Osteoblasts: Osteoblasts are responsible for osteogenesis, which is the process of bone formation. These cells function by synthesizing and secreting the collagen matrix and other bone proteins, which then mineralize to form new bone.
  2. Osteoclasts: Osteoclasts are responsible for resorption, which is the disintegration of bone tissue. These cells break down the bone matrix by secreting acids and enzymes that dissolve the mineral components and degrade the proteins of the bone matrix.

Significance of Bone Turnover

Bone turnover serves several crucial functions in the body. It helps repair stress microfractures caused by normal physical exertion, strengthens bone tissue in response to appropriate stimuli, and regulates plasma calcium and phosphorus levels.

The balance between the actions of osteoblasts and osteoclasts is crucial to maintaining healthy bones. Understanding this balance is key to treating diseases where this balance is lost, such as osteoporosis and bone metastases.

Factors Influencing Bone Turnover

Several factors regulate the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. These include the level of calcium in the blood and the mechanical load due to the force of gravity and muscular stress. The skeleton responds to physical exercise, muscular stress, and gravity by strengthening itself. Conversely, it weakens without these stimuli.

Hormones also play a significant role in influencing bone turnover. Calciotropic hormones, such as parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, and vitamin D, specifically regulate calcium homeostasis. Other systemically active hormones, like androgens, estrogens, thyroid hormones, GH, IGF-1, IGF-2, prolactin, and glucocorticoids, influence bone metabolism.

In addition to endocrine signals, bones are also sensitive to mechanical stimuli. Weight-bearing activities, such as running, dancing, and football, induce compressive stress on the bone and stimulate positive reactions in the bone tissue. On the other hand, prolonged immobilization can lead to a rarefaction of the bone tissue.

Local stimuli, such as transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-ß) and insulin-like growth factors (IGF), produced by osteoblasts, also stimulate their activity.


Bone turnover is a complex and dynamic process that maintains the health and strength of our bones. Understanding this process provides a solid foundation for understanding and treating bone-related diseases.

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The Wellyme Team

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