Recent research has uncovered a cell mechanism that could help explain why smoking, alcohol, and other modifiable factors could raise the risk of developing the bone disease osteoporosis.
The mechanism spurs a cell type in the immune system to turn into osteoclasts, which are a type of cell that resorbs, or dissolves, bone.
It appears that mitochondria, the tiny enclosures that produce energy in cells, send out a signal that triggers this process when under stress.
When this happens in the mitochondria of macrophages, the cells turn into osteoclasts. Macrophages are prolific immune cells that remove cell waste and foreign objects by swallowing and digesting them.