Successful bone remodeling demands that osteoblasts restitute the bone removed by osteoclasts. In human cancellous bone, a pivotal role in this restitution is played by the canopies covering the bone remodeling surfaces, since disruption of canopies in multiple myeloma, postmenopausal- and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis is associated with the absence of progression of the remodeling cycle to bone formation, i.e. uncoupling. An emerging concept explaining this critical role of canopies is that they represent a reservoir of osteoprogenitors to be delivered to reversal surfaces. In postmenopausal osteoporosis, this concept is supported by the coincidence between the absence of canopies and scarcity of cells on reversal surfaces together with abortion of the remodeling cycle. Here we tested whether this concept holds true in glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. A histomorphometric analysis of iliac crest biopsies from patients exposed to long-term glucocorticoid treatment revealed a subpopulation of reversal surfaces corresponding to the characteristics of arrest found in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Importantly, these arrested reversal surfaces were devoid of canopy coverage in almost all biopsies, and their prevalence correlated with a deficiency in bone forming surfaces. Taken together with the other recent data, the functional link between canopies, reversal surface activity, and the extent of bone formation surface in postmenopausal- and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis, supports a model where bone restitution during remodeling demands recruitment of osteoprogenitors from the canopy onto reversal surfaces. These data suggest that securing the presence of functional local osteoprogenitors deserves attention in the search of strategies to prevent the bone loss that occurs during bone remodeling in pathological situations.
Bone remodeling; Glucocorticoid; Reversal phase; Bone remodeling compartment canopy; Coupling