Skeletal phenotyping is the quantification of structural and cellular data to describe the effects of experimental interventions on the skeletons of research animals. It involves the collection of both structural data describing the amount and organization of bone as well as cellular data describing the number and activity of different cell populations including osteoblast and osteoclasts.
The analysis of human bone biopsies is an important tool in a variety of clinical research tasks including kidney transplantation and genetic defects in bone formation.
Cortical Bone Structure
Analysis of cortical bone cross-sections is often associated with the investigation of mechanical loading. Changes in cortical thickness as well as the number and distribution of osteons can help quantify these effects.
Many kinds of cancer metastasize to the bone marrow. Once there, osteolytic tumors can cause the rapid destruction of bone. Analysis of tumor volume, bone volume, and the number of osteoclasts can help understand this process.
Orthopaedic implants are more successful then the are organically integrated into the bone. Consequently, a great deal of research goes into engineering the surface of an implant to promote bone growth. Analysis of bone formation within a zone of re-growth around an implant, and the determination of the length of the bone to implant interface helps evaluate these devices.
The neonatal formation of new bone is driven in part by the rapid growth of uncalcified cartilage. Examination of cell proliferation patterns in chondrocytes can help shed light on this mechanism. There are several unique automated cell counting tools in BIOQUANT to accelerate this work.
The analysis of the epiphyseal bone in animal models of osteoarthritis helps explain changes in mechanical loading as the articular cartilage disintegrates. This analysis often shows a thickening of the subchondral bone plate as well as an increase in the number and thickness of trabeculae.
Subchondral Bone in Osteoarthritis
Subchondral bone is composed of multiple biologically distinct structures. These include trabecular bone, a cortical plate, and a zone of calcified cartilage. This protocol details the analysis of those various compartments and the cells that inhabit them including hypertrophic chondrocytes.