An increasing number of patients worldwide suffer from bone fractures that occur after low intensity trauma. Such fragility fractures are usually associated with advanced age and osteoporosis but also with long-term immobilization, corticosteroid therapy, diabetes mellitus, and other endocrine disorders. It is important to understand the skeletal origins of increased bone fragility in these conditions for preventive and therapeutic strategies to combat one of the most common health problems of the aged population. This review summarizes current knowledge pertaining to the phenomenon of micropetrosis (osteocyte lacunar mineralization). As an indicator of former osteocyte death, micropetrosis is more common in aged bone and osteoporotic bone. Considering that the number of mineralized osteocyte lacunae per bone area can distinguish healthy, untreated osteoporotic and bisphosphonate-treated osteoporotic patients, it could be regarded as a novel structural marker of impaired bone quality. Further research is needed to clarify the mechanism of lacunar mineralization and to explore whether it could be an additional target for preventing or treating bone fragility related to aging and various endocrine diseases.
Keywords: bone; osteoporosis; micropetrosis; bone fragility; bisphosphonates