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J Bone Miner Metab. 2001;19(6):352-8.

Role of stromal cells in osteoclast differentiation in bone marrow.

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Division of Anatomy and Cell Biology of Hard Tissue, Niigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Section for Oral Life Science, 2-5274 Gakkocho-Dori, Niigata 951-8514, Japan.


Bone marrow stromal cells have been considered to play an important role in osteoclast differentiation. However, the interaction of these cells in vivo has not been clearly demonstrated. To clarify this, we examined the distribution of alkaline phosphatase (ALPase) and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAPase) activities as markers of osteoblastic and osteoclastic cells, respectively. Rat tibiae were fixed and embedded in Technovit 8100 or paraffin. ALPase and TRAPase activities were detected simultaneously on a plastic section by the azo-dye method. ALPase activity was detected on the plasma membranes of osteoblasts and some bone marrow fibroblastic stromal cells. These ALPase-positive cells were connected to each other by cytoplasmic processes, forming a cellular network in bone marrow. The ALPase activity of fibroblastic stromal cells tended to be stronger in those cells close to the bone surface than in the cells in the center of bone marrow. Reticular fibers in bone marrow were found to form a network. The ALPase-positive fibroblastic stromal cells may be reticular cells, because the localization of those cells was in accord with the localization of reticular fibers. The TRAPase-positive mononuclear cells and osteoclasts were mostly observed to be associated with the intensely ALPase-positive fibroblastic stromal cells. Immunoreactivity of osteoclast differentiation factor (ODF) was found in the fibroblastic stromal cells. These findings suggest that the network of ALPase-positive fibroblastic stromal cells in bone marrow serves as a guide for the migration of osteoclast precursor cells toward the bone surface, and may control the differentiation and activity of osteoclasts.

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