A quantitative mouse calvarial bone resorption assay was employed to investigate the effects of the mast cell products, heparin and histamine, and of salmon calcitonin. 'Amorphous' heparin, containing a range of molecular weight fractions, inhibited resorption by 15-20% at concentrations of 0.75-5.0 mg/ml. A 'defined' heparin species of mol.wt 13 500 inhibited resorption by 14-28% at 10(-5)-10(-4) mol/l. Histamine inhibited resorption by 19-55% at 10(-3)-10(-2) mol/l. It is proposed that heparin and histamine depress coupled bone resorption and formation and may lead to net loss of bone. Salmon calcitonin inhibited resorption at concentrations as low as 10 pg/ml. 'Amorphous' (but not 'defined') heparin blunted calcitonin induced inhibition of bone resorption and may derepress osteoclasts.
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