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Immune control of bone density heralds therapeutic opportunities

By Sharon Kingman
Staff Writer

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
LONDON – The control of bone resorption is closely linked to the function of the immune system, a new study has shown. A team of researchers working in Germany has discovered that osteoclasts – the cells that constantly eat away at the bone, at the same time as other cells constantly produce new bone – are regulated by the immune system, using the same molecules that are present on antigen-presenting cells such as macrophages. The study showed that, as a result, regulation of the immune system also has the capacity to stimulate the production of new bone or, conversely, to cause thinning of the bone. Georg Schett, professor of internal medicine at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Erlangen, Germany, said, "What we have found is that bone is essentially controlled by the immune system."

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