A simplified method for the generation of human osteoclasts in vitro

Academic Article


  • Osteoclasts are large, multinucleated cells responsible for the resorption of mineralized bone matrix. These cells are critical players in the bone turnover involved in bone homeostasis. Osteoclast activity is connected to the establishment and expansion of skeletal metastases from a number of primary neoplasms. Thus, the formation and activation of osteoclasts is an area of research with many potential avenues for clinical translation. Past studies of osteoclast biology have utilized primary murine cells cultured in vitro. Recently, techniques have been described that involve the generation of osteoclasts from human precursor cells. However, these protocols are often timeconsuming and insufficient for generating large numbers of osteoclasts. We therefore developed a simplified protocol by which human osteoclasts may be easily and reliably generated in large numbers in vitro. In this study, osteoclasts were differentiated from bone marrow cells that had been aliquotted and frozen. Cells were generated by culture with recombinant macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). Both human and murine RANKL were shown to efficiently generate osteoclasts, although higher concentrations of murine RANKL were required. Formation of osteoclasts was demonstrated qualitatively by tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining. These cells were fully functional, as confirmed by their ability to form resorption pits on cortical bone slices. Functional human osteoclasts can be difficult to generate in vitro by current protocols. We have demonstrated a simplified system for the generation of human osteoclasts in vitro that allows for large numbers of osteoclasts to be obtained from a single donor.
  • Authors

    Author List

  • Cody JJ; Rivera AA; Liu J; Liu JM; Douglas JT; Feng X
  • Start Page

  • 183
  • End Page

  • 189
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 2