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Miner Electrolyte Metab. 1986;12(4):246-54.

Osteoblast and osteoclast cell number and cell activity in postmenopausal osteoporosis.


This study evaluates osteoblast and osteoclast cell numbers and cell activities determined from quantitative histology of trabecular bone in human iliac crest bone biopsies. Subjects studied were postmenopausal osteoporotic patients (aged 53-81) for whom total body calcium and urine and serum clinical data were also available. Only 39% of the osteoclasts identified by acid phosphatase content were multinucleate; however, a significant correlation between multinucleate osteoclasts and the total number of osteoclasts was found (r = 0.87; p less than 0.001). The mean number of osteoclasts per square millimeter of total tissue area was 0.96 (+/- 0.14, SEM, n = 36); the mean number of osteoblasts was 6.8 (+/- 1.5, n = 14)/mm2 tissue area. Computed osteoclast activity (square millimeter bone resorbed per osteoclast nucleus per day) was 2.6 X 10(-4) +/- 1.0 X 10(-4) (n = 13). Computed osteoblast activity (square millimeter bone formed per osteoblast per day) was 2.9 X 10(-5) +/- 8.8 X 10(-6) (n = 13). Calculated mean rate of bone resorption was 1.6 X 10(-4) +/- 3.4 X 10(-5) mm2 bone resorbed per mm2 total tissue area per day (n = 19). These data indicate that although osteoclasts are not numerous in the iliac crest of postmenopausal osteoporotics, the individual osteoclast activity (in square millimeter bone resorbed osteoclast cell unit per day) is significantly greater (p less than 0.001) than the osteoblast activity (in square millimeter matrix deposited per cell per day). These data also point out that greater consideration should be given to the role that osteoclast cell activity may play in human postmenopausal osteoporosis.

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