Cyclic hydrostatic pressure stimulates enhanced bone development in the foetal chick femur in vitro

J. R. Henstock*, M. Rotherham, J. B. Rose, A. J. El Haj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Mechanical loading of bone and cartilage in vivo results in the generation of cyclic hydrostatic forces as bone compression is transduced to fluid pressure in the canalicular network and the joint synovium. It has therefore been suggested that hydrostatic pressure is an important stimulus by which osteochondral cells and their progenitors sense and respond to mechanical loading in vivo. In this study, hydrostatic pressure regimes of 0-279kPa at 0.005-2Hz were applied to organotypically cultured ex vivo chick foetal femurs (e11) for 1hour per day in a custom designed bioreactor for 14days and bone formation assessed by X-ray microtomography and qualified by histology. We found that the mineralised portion of the developing femur cultured under any cyclic hydrostatic pressure regime was significantly larger and/or denser than unstimulated controls but that constant (non-cycling) hydrostatic pressure had no effect on bone growth. Further experiments showed that the increase in bone formation was directly proportional to stimulation frequency (R2=0.917), but independent of the magnitude of the pressure applied, whilst even very low frequencies of stimulation (0.005Hz) had significant effects on bone growth. Expression of Type-II collagen in both epiphyses and diaphysis was significantly upregulated (1.48-fold and 1.95-fold respectively), together with osteogenic genes (osteonectin and osteopontin) and the osteocyte maturation marker CD44. This work demonstrates that cyclic hydrostatic pressure promotes bone growth and mineralisation in a developmental model and supports the hypothesis that hydrostatic forces play an important role in regulating bone growth and remodelling in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-477
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

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