Three-Dimensional in Vitro Model to Study Osteobiology and Osteopathology

Venkatesh Krishnan, Erwin A. Vogler, Andrea M. Mastro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The bone is an amazing organ that grows and remodels itself over a lifetime. It is generally accepted that bone sculpting in response to stress and force is carried out by groups of cells contained within bone multicellular units that are coordinated to degrade existing bone and form new bone. Because of the nature of bone and the extensiveness of the skeleton, it is difficult to study bone remodeling in vivo. On the other hand, because the bone contains a complex environment of many cell types, is it possible to study bone remodeling in vitro? We propose that one can at minimum study the interaction between osteoblasts (bone formation) and osteoclasts (bone degradation) in a three dimensional (3D) "bioreactor". Furthermore, one can add bone degrading metastatic cancer cells, and study how they contribute to and take part in the bone degradation process. We have primarily cultured and differentiated MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts for long periods (2-10 months) before addition of bone marrow osteoclasts and/or metastatic (MDA-MB-231), metastasis suppressed (MDA-MB-231BRMS1) or non-metastatic (MCF-7) breast cancer cells. In the co-culture of osteoblasts and osteoclasts there was clear evidence of matrix degradation. Loss of matrix was also evident after co-culture with metastatic breast cancer cells. Tri-culture permitted an evaluation of the interaction of the three cell types. The 3D system holds promise for further studies of cancer dormancy, hormone, and cytokine effects and matrix manipulation. J. Cell. Biochem. 116: 2715-2723, 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2715-2723
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of cellular biochemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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