Image comparing normal lumbar spine to osteoporotic lumbar spine

The Cell Biology of Bone Laboratory of Merry Jo Oursler, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic researches the role of osteoclasts in bone loss.

Osteoclasts are large, multinucleated cells that are responsible for bone degradation in all vertebrate animals, including people. As people get older, increased osteoclast activity can cause osteoporosis, which in turn can lead to debilitating bone fractures. The rate at which bone is lost depends mostly on the number of osteoclasts present on bone.

Research in the Cell Biology of Bone Laboratory is aimed at better understanding the molecular mechanisms by which osteoclasts differentiate and how osteoclasts contribute to the replacement of the bone that they remove. The hope is that this knowledge will lead to more effective therapies to prevent or treat debilitating bone loss.