Several important conclusions have recently emerged from in vitro studies on the resorptive cell of bone, the osteoclast. First, it has been established that osteoclast function is modulated locally, by changes in the local concentration of Ca2+ caused by hydroxyapatite dissolution. It is thought that activation by Ca2+ of a surface membrane Ca2+ receptor mediates these effects, hence providing a feedback control. Second, a number of molecules produced locally by the endothelial cell, with which the osteoclast is in intimate contact, have been found to affect bone resorption profoundly. For instance, the autocoid nitric oxide strongly inhibits bone resorption. Finally, reactive oxygen species have been found to aid bone resorption and enhance osteoclastic activity directly. Here, we will attempt to integrate these control mechanisms into a unified hypothesis for the local control of bone resorption.

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