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Highly Accessed Review

Cells of the synovium in rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoclasts

Georg Schett

Author Affiliations

Department of Internal Medicine III and Institute for Clinical Immunology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2007, 9:203  doi:10.1186/ar2110

Published: 15 February 2007

Abstract

Osteoclasts are multinucleated cells of hematopoietic origin and are the primary bone resorbing cells. Numerous osteoclasts are found within the synovial tissue at sites adjacent to bone, creating resorption pits and local bone destruction. They are equipped with specific enzymes and a proton pump that enable them to degrade bone matrix and solubilize calcium, respectively. The synovial tissue of inflamed joints has a particularly high potential to accumulate osteoclasts because it harbors monocytes/macrophages, which function as osteoclast precursors, as well as cells that provide the specific molecular signals that drive osteoclast formation. Osteoclasts thus represent a link between joint inflammation and structural damage since they resorb mineralized tissue adjacent to the joint and destroy the joint architecture.