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Intracellular CalciumWaves in Bone Cell Networks Under Single Cell Nanoindentation

In this study, bone cells were successfully cultured into a micropatterned network with dimensions close to that of in vivo osteocyte networks using microcontact printing and self-assembled monolyers (SAMs). The optimal geometric parameters for the formation of these networks were determined in terms of circle diameters and line widths. Bone cells patterned in these networks were also able to form gap junctions with each other, shown by immunofluorescent staining for the gap junction protein connexin 43, as well as the transfer of gap-junction permeable calcein-AM dye. We have demonstrated for the first time, that the intracellular calcium response of a single  bone cell indented in this bone cell network, can be transmitted to neighboring bone cells through multiple calcium waves. Furthermore, the propagation of these calcium waves was diminished with increased cell separation distance. Thus, this study provides new experimental data that support the idea of osteocyte network memory of  mechanical loading similar to memory in neural networks.

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