Isolation of avian osteoclasts: Improved techniques to preferentially purify viable cells

Merry Jo Oursler, Patricia Collin‐Osdoby, Fred Anderson, Ling Li, David Webber, Philip Osdoby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Among the many different methods that have been used to obtain and study isolated osteoclasts from a variety of species, the egg‐laying hen maintained on a low‐calcium diet has proven to be one of the richest sources of relatively large numbers of osteoclasts. However, recent reports and our own observations indicate that only a very small proportion of the osteoclasts harvested by such methods are viable.1 The difficulty in obtaining large numbers of viable osteoclasts has restricted studies of osteoclast function and regulation, and so new isolation methods were sought. This report describes an osteoclast isolation procedure designed to substantially enrich for large numbers of viable authentic osteoclasts. Size and cell density differences between osteoclasts and contaminating mononuclear cells have been exploited in developing the methods for osteoclast enrichment. Sequential nonenzymatic and enzymatic procedures, followed by cell density separations, have yielded three populations of osteoclasts derived from chick hatchlings maintained on a low‐calcium diet. A corresponding decrease in bone‐associated osteoclasts during the sequential isolation scheme has been monitored using an osteoclast‐directed monoclonal antibody, 121F. The first two populations contain 40% osteoclasts, which are predominantly (>99%) nonviable, but the third population contains 8‐fold more viable osteoclasts, effectively increasing the proportion of viable osteoclasts more than 25‐fold in comparison with the first two populations. The osteoclast‐like nature of the isolated viable population 3 cells was established by demonstrating ruffled border formation, possession of the 121F monoclonal antibody‐reactive osteoclast antigen, bone particle resorption activity, and resorption pit formation on cortical bone slices revealed by transmission and scanning electron microscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-385
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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