Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Breaking Bones

Cells underlying cartilage resorption in bone growth and wound healing identified

26 February 2022

Breaking Bones

Reshaping a bone, like renovating a building, makes a lot of mess. Old cells and debris must be cleared to make space for new, fresh growth. Researchers know that osteoclast cells break down old bone, but what about the spongy cartilage often found where bones meet? This three-week old mouse femur, scanned under a confocal microscope, highlights patterns of blood vessels (red) and cell nuclei (blue), but also elusive cells known as septoclasts (green). They lurk near the growth plate (top) – where cartilage is gradually replaced by hardened bone in early life. Researchers find chemical signals that call septoclasts to action, helping with this ossification. They help during healing too, but as fractures heal slowly in later life, the next challenge is to find ways to boost septoclasts in their vital cartilage clearing.

Written by John Ankers

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