Isolation of osteoclasts from fetal rat long bones

Thomas J. Hefley*, Paula H Stern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cell isolates containing multinucleate osteoclasts were obtained from longitudinally split fetal rat long bones by treatment with testicular hyaluronidase. The total yield of osteoclasts and the osteoclast enrichment of the isolate were increased if the intact bones were first cultured for 72 h. Even greater enhancement was obtained if the bones were treated with 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol [1,25(OH)2D3] during the culture period. This technique resulted in a cell population containing approximately 15% osteoclasts in yields greater than 50 osteoclasts per long bone. The yield of osteoclasts and the percentage of osteoclasts correlated well with the extent of bone resorption induced by 1,25(OH)2D3. The effectiveness of several isolation procedures was compared using the 1,25(OH)2D3-treated long bones. Conventional digestion with 1 mg/ml crude collagenase gave a much poorer yield of osteoclasts than simply agitating the split long bones. Hyaluronidase plus EDTA was not significantly different from EDTA alone. Even with milder procedures, however, the isolated osteoclasts were damaged as judged by their failure to exclude trypan blue. The osteoclasts are obviously very fragile cells. The isolation technique coupled with May-Grunwald-Giemsa staining permitted reliable determination of the median number of nuclei per osteoclast. This parameter was the same in uncultured bones or in bones cultured for 72 h in control media. Treatment with 1,25(OH)2D3 increased the nuclear number. At lower levels of bone resorption, nuclear number did not increase, but it was significantly greater in more highly resorbed bones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-487
Number of pages8
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1982


  • 1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol
  • Cell isolation
  • Osteoclast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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