This article reviews recent information concerning the origin of osteoclasts and the local and systemic regulation of their activity. It appears that much of the environmental responsiveness of osteoclasts is mediated by cells of the osteoblastic lineage, which exert a major influence on the localisation, induction, stimulation, and inhibition of osteoclastic bone resorption. Some of the mechanisms by which osteoclast function may be disturbed by inflammatory and neoplastic diseases are discussed, and it is suggested that many pathological disturbances of osteoclastic bone resorption may be explicable as mimicry of physiological regulatory mechanisms by local hormones introduced into bone as the local regulators of the diseased tissue.
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