Osteoclasts, the multinucleated cells responsible for bone resorption, have an enormous destructive power which demands to be kept under tight control. Accordingly, the identification of molecular signals directing osteo- clastogenesis and switching on their resorptive activity have received much attention. Mandatory factors were identified, but a very essential aspect of the control mechanism of osteoclastic resorption, i.e. its spatial control, remains poorly understood. Under physiological conditions, multinucleated osteoclasts are only detected on the bone surface, while their mono-nucleated precursors are only in the bone marrow. How are pre-osteoclasts targeted to the bone surface? How is their progressive differentiation coordinated with their approach to the bone surface sites to be resorbed, which is where they finally fuse? Here we review the information on the bone marrow distribution of differentiating pre-osteoclasts relative to the position of the mandatory factors for their differentiation as well as relative to physical entities that may affect their access to the remodelling sites. This info allows recognizing an “osteoclastogenesis route” through the bone marrow and leading to the coincident fusion/resorption site – but also points to what still remains to be clarified regarding this route and regarding the restriction of fusion at the resorption site. Finally, we discuss the mechanism responsible for the start of re- sorption and its spatial extension. This review underscores that fully understanding the control of bone re- sorption requires to consider it in both space and time - which demands taking into account the context of bone tissue.
- Bone marrow
- Collagen network