Differential effect of steady versus oscillating flow on bone cells

C. R. Jacobs, C. E. Yellowley, B. R. Davis, Z. Zhou, J. M. Cimbala, H. J. Donahue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

410 Scopus citations


Loading induced fluid flow has recently been proposed as an important biophysical signal in bone mechanotransduction. Fluid flow resulting from activities which load the skeleton such as standing, locomotion, or postural muscle activity are predicted to be dynamic in nature and include a relatively small static component. However, in vitro fluid flow experiments with bone cells to date have been conducted using steady or pulsing flow profiles only. In this study we exposed osteoblast-like hFOB 1.19 cells (immortalized human fetal osteoblasts) to precisely controlled dynamic fluid flow profiles of saline supplemented with 2% fetal bovine serum while monitoring intracellular calcium concentration with the fluorescent dye fura- 2. Applied flows included steady flow resulting in a wall shear stress of 2 N m-2, oscillating flow (± 2 N m-2), and pulsing flow (0 to 2 N m-2). The dynamic flows were applied with sinusoidal profiles of 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 Hz. We found that oscillating flow was a much less potent stimulator of bone cells than either steady or pulsing flow. Furthermore, a decrease in responsiveness with increasing frequency was observed for the dynamic flows. In both cases a reduction in responsiveness coincides with a reduction in the net fluid transport of the flow profile. Thus, these findings support the hypothesis that the response of bone cells to fluid flow is dependent on chemotransport effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-976
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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