New bone regeneration mechanism discovered

Written by Adam Tarring

A new mechanism by which osteoblasts are supplied during bone regeneration in zebrafish has been identified.

Image: MDI Biological Laboratory

A new study lead by researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo, Japan) has discovered a new mechanism for how osteoblasts are supplied during bone regeneration in zebrafish. The research was recently published in Developmental Cell.

In this study, researchers found that osteoblast progenitor cells (OPCs) are needed for efficient bone regeneration in zebrafish. The researchers used genetically engineered Zebrafish which didn’t express OPCs and showed that the regeneration of bone was significantly impaired. 

The researchers then investigated the developmental origins of the OPCs and found that OPCs are derived from embryonic somites, and reserved in niches of bone-forming tissues in the adult zebrafish. It was already known that embryonic somites produce osteoblasts during vertebrate development, but its relationship to adult osteoblasts was not known. This study elucidated that OPCs are dormant cells that are used in the production of osteoblasts in adult zebrafish.

“We use animal models because they show us a number of essential cellular and molecular mechanisms behind our existence. Considering the higher bone regeneration potential in zebrafish, OPCs will be a potential target for enhancing bone regeneration in mammals”, concluded study author Atsushi Kawakami (Tokyo Institute of Technology).

Sources:; Ando K, Shibata E, Hans S, Brand M, Kawakami A. Osteoblast Production by Reserved Progenitor Cells in Zebrafish Bone Regeneration and Maintenance. Dev. Cell. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.10.015 (2017) (Epub ahead of print).