Coordination of Fusion and Trafficking of Pre-osteoclasts at the Marrow–Bone Interface

Kent Søe*, Thomas Levin Andersen, Maja Hinge, Lars Rolighed, Niels Marcussen, Jean Marie Delaisse

*Corresponding author for this work

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Fusion is the final osteoclast differentiation step leading to bone resorption. In healthy trabecular bone, osteoclast fusion is restricted to bone surfaces undergoing resorption, and necessarily requires site-specific recruitment of mononucleated pre-osteoclasts originating from the bone marrow. However, the spatiotemporal mechanism coordinating recruitment and fusion is poorly investigated. Herein we identify a collagen/vascular network as a likely structure supporting this mechanism. We therefore used multiplex immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy on human iliac crest bone samples, in combination with functional assays performed in vitro with osteoclasts generated from healthy blood donors. First, we found that putative pre-osteoclasts are in close vicinity of a network of collagen fibers associated with vessels and bone remodeling compartment canopies. Based on 3D-reconstructions of serial sections, we propose that this network may serve as roads leading pre-osteoclasts to resorption sites, as reported for cell migration in other tissues. Importantly, almost all these bone marrow pre-osteoclasts, but only some osteoclasts, express the collagen receptor OSCAR, which is reported to induce fusion competence. Furthermore, differentiating osteoclasts cultured on collagen compared to mineral show higher fusion rates, higher expression of fusogenic cytokines, and a CD47 plasma membrane distribution pattern reported to be typical of a pre-fusion state—thus collectively supporting collagen-induced fusion competence. Finally, these in vitro assays show that collagen induces high cell mobility. The present data lead to a model where collagen fibers/vasculature support the coordination between traffic and fusion of pre-osteoclasts, by serving as a physical road and inducing fusion competence as well as cell mobility.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)430-445
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Collagen
  • Fusion
  • Osteoclasts
  • Recruitment

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