Osteoclasts are specialized cells derived from the monocyte/macrophage haematopoietic lineage that develop and adhere to bone matrix, then secrete acid and lytic enzymes that degrade it in a specialized, extracellular compartment. Discovery of the RANK signalling pathway in the osteoclast has provided insight into the mechanisms of osteoclastogenesis and activation of bone resorption, and how hormonal signals impact bone structure and mass. Further study of this pathway is providing the molecular basis for developing therapeutics to treat osteoporosis and other diseases of bone loss.
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Boyle, W., Simonet, W. & Lacey, D. Osteoclast differentiation and activation. Nature 423, 337–342 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01658
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