February 14, 2012
Anybody remember that psychedelic muppet-show called “Fraggle Rock“? It had betailed, underground-dwelling, hyperactive, musical, troll-like creatures and… umm… other stuff…
…like a talking trash heap, of all things.
It was also a great analogy for what happens inside the human bone.
Yep, goes like this:
In the underground caves where the Fraggles live, there are also the ant-like doozers, little creatures that build intricate scaffolds all day long. And the fraggles have nothing better to do than eating the stuff, which means that the doozer’s construction jobs never get finished… and yet, they have never come up with the idea of attacking the fraggles in numbers during their sleep and strangling them.
One day, Mokey, the resident fraggle tree-hugger, decides that scaffold-eating is doozer cruelty and talks the others into quitting their habit.
Pictured: Mokey the tree hugger
…or, in this underground setting, probably mushroom-hugger, that would explain quite a lot, actually.
Predictably, this does not end well: almost smothered by ungodly masses of scaffolding, they eventually break free by eating themselves out of their pickle.
And that’s exactly what our bones do, too:
Osteocytes, the building cells of the bone, come in two varieties: there are those that constantly add new material (osteoblasts/doozers) and those that do nothing but raze what the builders built (osteoclasts/fraggles). If there were no osteoclasts, the bones would become heavy and massive during body growth as more and more material is added to the outer tunic, so they have to be hollowed out. But if the fraggles get the upper hand in that never ending game (for instance because of calcium-deficiency), the bones eventually become so brittle that they break under one’s own body weight. This goes on even after growth is completed.
Here is one of the cellular fraggles at work: Click! (Omnomnom-sound recording not included)
So, don’t forget to provide your inner doozers with ample building material.
(This entry was sponsored by Cheesy McMilk Corp. Co.)