In pharmacology, bisphosphonates (also called diphosphonates) are a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass, used to treat osteoporosis and similar diseases.
Bone has constant turnover, and is kept in balance (homeostasis) by osteoblasts creating bone and osteoclasts digesting bone. Bisphosphonates inhibit the digestion of bone by osteoclasts.
Osteoclasts also have constant turnover and normally destroy themselves by a process called cell suicide (apoptosis). Bisphosphonates encourage osteoclasts to undergo apoptosis.
The uses of bisphosphonates include the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, osteitis deformans ("Paget's disease of bone"), bone metastasis (with or without hypercalcaemia), multiple myeloma, primary hyperparathyroidism, osteogenesis imperfecta and other conditions that feature bone fragility.
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