Osteocytes are specialized bone cells that orchestrate skeletal remodeling. Senescent osteocytes are characterized by an activation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p16Ink4a and have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several bone loss disorders. In this issue of the JCI, Farr et al. have now shown that systemic removal of senescent cells (termed senolysis) prevented age-related bone loss at the spine and femur and mitigated bone marrow adiposity through a robust effect on osteoblasts and osteoclasts, whereas cell-specific senolysis in osteocytes alone was only partially effective. Surprisingly, transplantation of senescent fibroblasts into the peritoneum of young mice caused host osteocyte senescence associated with bone loss. This refined concept of osteocyte senescence and the effects of remote senolysis may help to develop improved senolytic strategies against multisystem aging in bone and beyond.
Lorenz C. Hofbauer, Franziska Lademann, Martina Rauner