Fluid flow induced PGE2 release by bone cells is reduced by glycocalyx degradation whereas calcium signals are not

Gwendolen C. Reilly, Traci R. Haut, Clare E Yellowley-genetos, Henry J. Donahue, Christopher R. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


It has been hypothesized that bone cells have a hyaluronic acid (HA) rich glycocalyx (cell coat or pericellular matrix) and that this contributes to bone cell mechanotransduction via fluid flow. The glycocalyx of bone cells of the MC3T3-E1 osteoblastic cell line and the MLO-Y4 osteocytic cell line were characterized. Alcian blue staining and lectin binding experiments suggested that these cells have a glycocalyx rich in HA. Sulphated proteoglycans were not detected. Staining with hyaluronic acid binding protein and degradation by hyaluronidase confirmed that HA was a major component of the glycocalyx. We subjected cells, with and without hyaluronidase treatment, to oscillating fluid flow under standardized in vitro conditions. There was no effect of glycocalyx degradation on the intracellular calcium signal, in either cell type, in terms of the percentage of cells responding (40-80%) or the magnitude of the response (2-5 times baseline). However, a 4-fold fluid flow induced increase in PGE 2 was eliminated by hyaluronidase pre-treatment in MLO-Y4 cells. We conclude that under these conditions the calcium and PGE2 responses occur via different pathways. An intact glycocalyx is not necessary in order to initiate a calcium signal in response to oscillating fluid flow. However, in osteocyte-like cells the PGE2 pathway is more dependent on mechanical signals transmitted through the glycocalyx.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-603
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2003


  • Cell signaling
  • Mechanical loading
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteocyte
  • Pericellular matrix
  • Proteoglycans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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