Boning up on Wolff's Law: mechanical regulation of the cells that make and maintain bone.
Bone tissue forms and is remodeled in response to the mechanical forces that it experiences, a phenomenon described by Wolff's Law. Mechanically induced formation and adaptation of bone tissue is mediated by bone cells that sense and respond to local mechanical cues. In this review, the forces experienced by bone cells, the mechanotransduction pathways involved, and the responses elicited are considered. Particular attention is given to two cell types that have emerged as key players in bone mechanobiology: osteocytes, the putative primary mechanosensors in intact bone; and osteoprogenitors, the cells responsible for bone formation and recently implicated in ectopic calcification of cardiovascular tissues. Mechanoregulation of bone involves a complex interplay between these cells, their microenvironments, and other cell types. Thus, dissection of the role of mechanics in regulating bone cell fate and function, and translation of that knowledge to improved therapies, requires identification of relevant cues, multifactorial experimental approaches, and advanced model systems that mimic the mechanobiological environment.