Recent advances in osteoclast biology

Histochem Cell Biol. 2018 Apr;149(4):325-341. doi: 10.1007/s00418-018-1636-2. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


The bone is an essential organ for locomotion and protection of the body, as well as hematopoiesis and mineral homeostasis. In order to exert these functions throughout life, bone tissue undergoes a repeating cycle of osteoclastic bone resorption and osteoblastic bone formation. The osteoclast is a large, multinucleated cell that is differentiated from monocyte/macrophage lineage cells by macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL). RANKL transduces its signal through the signaling receptor, RANK. RANKL/RANK signaling activates NFATc1, the master regulator of osteoclastogenesis, to induce osteoclastogenic gene expression. Many types of cells express RANKL to support osteoclastogenesis depending on the biological context and the dysregulation of RANKL signaling leads to bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopetrosis. This review outlines the findings on osteoclast and RANKL/RANK signaling that have accumulated to date.

Keywords: Bone diseases; Osteoclast; RANK; RANKL.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Osteoclasts / cytology*
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • RANK Ligand / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • RANK Ligand