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Exp Physiol. 1993 Nov;78(6):721-39.

Osteoclast function and its control.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, London.


Bone resorption appears to be dependent on a range of processes. It requires an adequate number of osteoclasts to access bone mineral. These osteoclasts must be activated by a mechanism which is dependent upon prior osteoblastic stimulation. A range of factors then contribute to the formation of a functionally effective resorptive hemivacuole. These entail osteoclast adhesion to the bone surface leading to the formation of a sealing zone. Only then can subsequent processes such as H+ ion transport, enzyme secretion and matrix digestion become effective. Thus, any one process is potentially limiting to resorption and is a potential target for regulation. Long-range regulation takes place through the action of hormones, of which the mode of action of calcitonin has been the subject of recent investigations in isolated osteoclasts. Such studies have shown a possible involvement of distinguishable receptor subtypes, the occupancy of which may activate at least two types of triggering mechanism. It is likely that an eventual influence on motility properties through G protein mediation accounts for the actions of this hormone and of related peptides such as amylin and CGRP at the cellular level. Similar pathways may contribute to shorter range modulation of osteoclast activity by increases in ambient Ca2+. Finally, there is recent evidence for a contribution of endothelial cell-derived product to osteoclast regulation.

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