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Biomaterials. 1998 Aug;19(15):1323-8.

In vivo osteogenesis assay: a rapid method for quantitative analysis.

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  • 1Skeletal Research Center, Biology Department, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106-7080, USA. jed4@po.cwru.edu


A quantitative in vivo osteogenesis assay is a useful tool for the analysis of cells and bioactive factors that affect the amount or rate of bone formation. There are currently two assays in general use for the in vivo assessment of osteogenesis by isolated cells: diffusion chambers and porous calcium phosphate ceramics. Due to the relative ease of specimen preparation and reproducibility of results, the porous ceramic assay was chosen for the development of a rapid method for quantitating in vivo bone formation. The ceramic cube implantation technique consists of combining osteogenic cells with 27-mm3 porous calcium phosphate ceramics, implanting the cell-ceramic composites subcutaneously into an immuno-tolerant host, and, after 2-6 weeks, harvesting and preparing the ceramic implants for histologic analysis. A drawback to the analysis of bone formation within these porous ceramics is that the entire cube must be examined to find small foci of bone present in some samples; a single cross-sectional area is not representative. For this reason, image analysis of serial sections from ceramics is often prohibitively time-consuming. Two alternative scoring methodologies were tested and compared to bone volume measurements obtained by image analysis. The two subjective scoring methods were: (1) Bone Scale: the amount of bone within pores of the ceramic implant is estimated on a scale of 0-4 based on the degree of bone fill (0=no bone, 1=up to 25%, 2=25 to 75%, 4=75 to 100% fill); and (2) Percentage Bone: the amount of bone is estimated by determining the percentage of ceramic pores which contain bone. Every tenth section of serially sectioned cubes was scored by each of these methods under double-blind conditions, and the Bone Scale and Percentage Bone results were directly compared to image analysis measurements from identical samples. Correlation coefficients indicate that the Percentage Bone method was more accurate than the Bone Scale scoring method. The Bone Scale scoring method gave an r2=0.767 while the Percentage Bone method gave a value of 0.902. These results indicate that scoring ceramic cubes by the percentage of pores containing bone gives a result that corresponds to image analysis measurements at nearly a 90% confidence level. Thus, the Percentage Bone method of scoring is an accurate and relatively quick scoring method for in vivo bone formation.

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