The rising incidence of metabolic diseases worldwide has prompted renewed interest in the study of intermediary metabolism and cellular bioenergetics. The application of modern biochemical methods for quantitating fuel substrate metabolism with advanced mouse genetic approaches has greatly increased understanding of the mechanisms that integrate energy metabolism in the whole organism. Examination of the intermediary metabolism of skeletal cells has been sparked by a series of unanticipated observations in genetically modified mice that suggest the existence of novel endocrine pathways through which bone cells communicate their energy status to other centers of metabolic control. The recognition of this expanded role of the skeleton has in turn led to new lines of inquiry directed at defining the fuel requirements and bioenergetic properties of bone cells. This article provides a comprehensive review of historical and contemporary studies on the metabolic properties of bone cells and the mechanisms that control energy substrate utilization and bioenergetics. Special attention is devoted to identifying gaps in our current understanding of this new area of skeletal biology that will require additional research to better define the physiological significance of skeletal cell bioenergetics in human health and disease.
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