Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Osteoclasts are cool

Right, so this blog was needing a post... but as I should be writing an essay rather than playing with the computer it is a small one. Basically in a tutorial last week one of the guys talked about osteoclasts and ostebolasts. As you clever folks probably know, the osteoblasts are responsible by forming the bone while the osteoclasts eat it up. An equilibrium between the two is required, as excess of osteoclasts means less bone and an excess of osteoblasts means an extra-calcified bone- in any case, the bone becames brittle and more easily breaks. Any therapy to prevent osteoporosis is complicated by the fact that they normally tend to target osteoclasts... which besides eating up the bone also secreted components that promote osteoblast development, in order to guarantee the normal equilibrium (that allows bone renovation).

Really interesting, however, are the photographs below.

In this photo you can actually see the contact between an osteoclast. Osteoclasts produce hydrogen ions that acidify and dissolve the bone surface, as well as hydrolytic enzymes

My favourite one, which I cheesily baptized of osteoclast at breakfast, basically shows an osteoclast with some similarities to a snail- leaving behind not a trail of mucus but rather of eaten bone.

Finally, there is a movie of an osteoclast. Not extremelly interesting (it cannot beat the green-turning-to-red spots of Gareth Evans) but at least it shows that osteoclasts are motile (note that it has been speed up 100 times) and have multiple nuclei: http://www.brsoc.org.uk/gallery/movies/arnett_osteoclast2.mov


Lovisa said...

Great blog Cat, you're a genius! And they're wonderful pictures! (am i being nice enough?)

Doktoranden said...

Interesting to see a blog-post about osteoclasts. Those cells are my "darlings" as I do my PhD-studies on these cells.
A note though; the hydrochloric acid from the osteoclast is there to dissolve the hydroxylapatite on top of the bone surface inside the Howship's Lacunae of the osteoclast. The degradation of the extracellular matrix of the bone itself is done by proteolytic (not hydrolytic) enzymes such as cathepsin K.

Anonymous said...

Great blog... bones are incredible. Their own delicate environment (connected of course to the rest) that needs to be in balance. The body is truly amazing and very intelligent in it's own right.

Sadly, I saw the Advert with Sally Fields promoting the drug that inhibits the osteoclasts from doing their job. I think most thinking people can see this is an major (unforseen side effects) accident waiting to happen. Hope people don't get hurt too badly by this coming spectacular failure of modern medicine.