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Osteolysis is a rare progressive condition that causes bone tissue to degenerate slowly, through the process of bone resorption. Bones in certain parts of the body lose important minerals, softening and becoming significantly weaker. There are several types of osteolysis, each involving unique mechanisms that trigger degeneration. Symptoms vary and are often minor, resulting in extreme bone damage before a person notices anything is wrong.

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1. Bone Resorption

Bones are continually undergoing bone remodeling, and part of this process requires bone resorption, the breakdown of old bone to make way for new, healthy bone. As resorption begins, bone cells called osteoclasts secrete collagenase and other enzymes. As the osteoclasts dig into the bone, they release high levels of phosphate, magnesium, and, most importantly, calcium into the extracellular fluid. Other bone cells, osteoblasts, then deposit some of these minerals along new bones to strengthen them during the process of ossification. In children, ossification occurs more than resorption, but that changes in older individuals. Bone resorption without ossification causes weaker bones and is the primary mechanism of osteolysis.

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