eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-Profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2021   Volume No 44 – pages 56-73

Title: Perspectives on in silico bone mechanobiology: computational modelling of multicellular systems

Authors: D Boaretti, E Wehrle, YD Bansod, DC Tourolle né Betts, R Müller

Address: Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Leopold-Ruzicka-Weg 4, HCP H23.1, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland

E-mail: ram at

Abstract: Bone mechanobiology is the study of the physical, biological and mechanical processes that continuously affect the multiscale multicellular system of the bone from the organ to the molecular scale. Current knowledge derives from experimental studies, which are often limited to gathering qualitative data in a cross-sectional manner, up to a restricted number of time points. Moreover, the simultaneous collection of information about 3D bone microarchitecture, cell activity as well as protein distribution and level is still a challenge. In silico models can expand qualitative information with hypothetical quantitative systems, which allow quantification, testing and comparison to existing quantifiable experimental data. An overview of multiscale, multiphysics, agent-based and hybrid techniques and their applications to bone mechanobiology is provided in the present review. The study analysed how mechanical signals, cells and proteins can be modelled in silico to represent bone remodelling and adaptation. Hybrid modelling of bone mechanobiology could combine the methods used in multiscale, multiphysics and agent-based models into a single model, leading to a unified and comprehensive understanding of bone mechanobiology. Numerical simulations of in vivo multicellular systems aided in hypothesis testing of such in silico models. Recently, in silico trials have been used to illustrate the mechanobiology of cells and signalling pathways in clinical biopsies and animal bones, including the effects of drugs on single cells and signalling pathways up to the organ level. This improved understanding may lead to the identification of novel therapies for degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis.

Keywords: Multiscale, multiphysics, agent-based, hybrid modelling, cells, reproducibility.

Publication date: August 30th 2022

Article download: Pages 56-73 (PDF file)

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