The Ultrastructural Relationship Between Osteocytes and Dental Implants Following Osseointegration
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BACKGROUND: Osteocytes, the most abundant cells in bone, have multiple functions, including acting as mechanosensors and regulating mineralization. It is clear that osteocytes influence bone remodeling by controlling the differentiation and activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Determining the relationship between titanium implants and osteocytes may therefore benefit our understanding of the process of osseointegration. PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to visualize the ultrastructural relationship between osteocytes and the titanium implant surface following osseointegration in vivo. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Titanium implants were placed in the maxillary molar regions of eight female Sprague Dawley rats, 3 months old. The animals were sacrificed 8 weeks after implantation, and undecalcified tissue sections were prepared. Resin-cast samples were subsequently acid-etched with 37% phosphoric acid prior to examination using scanning electron microscopy. RESULTS: Compared with mature bone, where the osteocytes were arranged in an ordered fashion, the osteocytes appeared less organized in the newly formed bone around the titanium implant. Further, a layer of mineralization with few organic components was observed on the implant surface. This study shows for the first time that osteocytes and their dendrites are directly connected with the implant surface. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows the direct anchorage of osteocytes via dendritic processes to a titanium implant surface in vivo. This suggests an important regulatory role for osteocytes and their lacunar-canalicular network in maintaining long-term osseointegration.
author list (cited authors)
Du, Z., Ivanovski, S., Hamlet, S. M., Feng, J. Q., & Xiao, Y.