Gap junctional communication in osteocytes is amplified by low intensity vibrations in vitro.

Academic Article


  • The physical mechanism by which cells sense high-frequency mechanical signals of small magnitude is unknown. During exposure to vibrations, cell populations within a bone are subjected not only to acceleratory motions but also to fluid shear as a result of fluid-cell interactions. We explored displacements of the cell nucleus during exposure to vibrations with a finite element (FE) model and tested in vitro whether vibrations can affect osteocyte communication independent of fluid shear. Osteocyte like MLO-Y4 cells were subjected to vibrations at acceleration magnitudes of 0.15 g and 1 g and frequencies of 30 Hz and 100 Hz. Gap junctional intracellular communication (GJIC) in response to these four individual vibration regimes was investigated. The FE model demonstrated that vibration induced dynamic accelerations caused larger relative nuclear displacement than fluid shear. Across the four regimes, vibrations significantly increased GJIC between osteocytes by 25%. Enhanced GJIC was independent of vibration induced fluid shear; there were no differences in GJIC between the four different vibration regimes even though differences in fluid shear generated by the four regimes varied 23-fold. Vibration induced increases in GJIC were not associated with altered connexin 43 (Cx43) mRNA or protein levels, but were dependent on Akt activation. Combined, the in silico and in vitro experiments suggest that externally applied vibrations caused nuclear motions and that large differences in fluid shear did not influence nuclear motion (<1%) or GJIC, perhaps indicating that vibration induced nuclear motions may directly increase GJIC. Whether the increase in GJIC is instrumental in modulating anabolic and anti-catabolic processes associated with the application of vibrations remains to be determined.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Animals, Cell Adhesion, Cell Communication, Cell Line, Cell Nucleus, Finite Element Analysis, Fluoresceins, Gap Junctions, Mice, Osteocytes, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt, Shear Strength, Signal Transduction, Vibration
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Uzer G; Pongkitwitoon S; Ian C; Thompson WR; Rubin J; Chan ME; Judex S
  • Start Page

  • e90840
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 3