This study is part of an attempt to understand the role of specific cellular activities in the bone resorptive process. Experiments were performed whereby known pharmacological agents were used to inhibit individual modes of osteoclastic activity, such as motility and secretion. The effects of such treatments on bone resorption were assessed by quantitative scanning electron microscopy. The compounds included colchicine, which was used to inhibit osteoclast motility; molybdate ions which were used to selectively inhibit the catalytic activity of secreted acid phosphatase, and omeprazole which was employed to inhibit the secretion of hydrogen ions. All compounds inhibited osteoclastic bone resorption, but singularly affected defined modes of activity. These findings suggest that each mode of osteoclastic activity is essential for the bone resorptive process, and that “mode-specific” inhibition may provide a means whereby excessive activity of the osteoclast can be regulated in disease.

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