Scanning Electron Microscopy


The present studies relate to the single or isolated osteoclastic resorption function assay which we introduced in 1983 to overcome objections to assays based upon measurements of calcium release from bones, in which it was never strictly controlled whether the mechanism involved the destruction of bone with the formation of classical Howship's lacunae. The method may prove to be quite popular in the near future and has already been adopted by other research groups. In previous work, we had utilised stereo-photogrammetry of scanning electron micrographs to measure the depth, volume and other parameters of the individual lacunae. However, increasing experience with the method has suggested that we can await a wide range of biological variability in single cell function in any one experiment. We have therefore tested other methods from which data could be obtained more rapidly to permit a better statistical analysis, albeit with reduced accuracy, of each resorption complex.

The main aim of the studies reported here was to evaluate various methods of optical and scanning electron microscopy that can be used for the visualization of osteoclasts and their associated resorption lacunae generated in vitro in slabs of dentine and bone. Optical microscopy was found to be complementary to SEM, enabling vital microscopy of unstained and stained cells. In particular, oblique illumination LM and tandem scanning reflected LM (TSRLM) proved to be of paramount value for this purpose. Fixed coated specimens could be most rapidly scanned for resorption lacunae using darkfield reflected LM or TSRLM.

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