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Several lines of indirect evidence suggest that a monocyte family precursor gives rise to the osteoclast, although this hypothesis is controversial. Starting with a uniform population of nonspecific esterase positive, tartrate-sensitive, acid phosphatase-producing, mannose receptor-bearing mononuclear cells, prepared from dispersed marrow of calcium-deprived laying hens by cell density separation and selective cellular adherence, we generated multinucleated cells in vitro. When cultured with devitalized bone, these cells show, by electron microscopy, the characteristic osteoclast morphology in that they are mitochondria-rich, multinucleated, and, most importantly, develop characteristic ruffled membranes at the matrix attachment site. Moreover, as documented by scanning electron microscopy, these cells pit bone slices in a manner identical to freshly isolated osteoclasts. In addition, isoenzymes of acid phosphatase from generated osteoclasts, separated by 7.5% polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis at pH 4, are identical to those of mature osteoclasts in migration pattern and tartrate resistance, although the precursor cells from which the osteoclasts are generated produce an entirely different isoenzyme, which is tartrate-sensitive and migrates less rapidly at pH 4. The fused cells also exhibit a cAMP response to prostaglandin E2. Therefore, osteoclast-like cells can be derived by in vitro culture of a marrow-derived monocyte cell population.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2324 - 2335


NASA Discipline Musculoskeletal, Non-NASA Center, Animals, Bone Marrow Cells, Cell Fusion, Cell Line, Chickens, Cyclic AMP, Histocytochemistry, Microscopy, Electron, Monocytes, Osteoclasts, Phagocytes