Bone Metabolism and Osteoporosis


Bones undergo constantly remodelling during life. The so-called RANKL/RANK/OPG system regulates the balance between bone formation by osteoblasts and bone resorption by osteoclasts. Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder characterized by reduced bone mineral density and bone strength. Patients suffering osteoporosis have a higher risk to get fractures. The therapy of osteoporosis-related fractures is still a continuous clinical problem.
For the investigation of fracture healing we intend to generate a RANKL overexpressing pig as a large model for osteoporosis.
Although preclinical in vivo studies demonstrated positive effects after transplantation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) in fracture models on the regeneration of bone, the fate of these cells is still unknown. Therefore, we aim to establish a system for monitoring hMSCs over a time period relevant for bone healing.
In some bone diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta, multiple myeloma and osteoporosis, the HA content in the bone or HAS expression in the hMSCs are changed. Understanding the role of HA in bone regeneration and the regulatory mechanisms of HAS in the hMSCs will provide therapeutic starting points for an improved fracture healing in patients suffering from one of these bone diseases.


Current Projects

  1. RANKL overexpressing pig as large animal model for osteoporosis
  2. Investigation of the role of hyaluronan and hayluronan synthases in the bone microenvironment
  3. Cell tracking of hMSCs in vivo

Group Leader

Veronika Schönitzer studied biochemistry at the University of Regensburg and did her PhD in the Department of Biochemistry I (Prof. M. Sumper). During her PhD she studied the role of the chitin synthase, a member of the same enzyme family like the hyaluronan synthase, in the molluscan shell mineralization process. In the autumn of 2009 she joined the Laboratory for Experimental Surgery and Regenerative Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow. Since 2013, she leads the “Bone - Osteoporosis” research group.