Polarized osteoclasts put marks of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase on dentin slices - A simple method for identifying polarized osteoclasts

Takahiro Nakayama, Toshihide Mizoguchi, Shunsuke Uehara, Teruhito Yamashita, Ichiro Kawahara, Yasuhiro Kobayashi, Yoshinori Moriyama, Saburo Kurihara, Noriyuki Sahara, Hidehiro Ozawa, Nobuyuki Udagawa, Naoyuki Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Osteoclasts form ruffled borders and sealing zones toward bone surfaces to resorb bone. Sealing zones are defined as ringed structures of F-actin dots (actin rings). Polarized osteoclasts secrete protons to bone surfaces via vacuolar proton ATPase through ruffled borders. Catabolic enzymes such as tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) and cathepsin K are also secreted to bone surfaces. Here we show a simple method of identifying functional vestiges of polarized osteoclasts. Osteoclasts obtained from cocultures of mouse osteoblasts and bone marrow cells were cultured for 48. h on dentin slices. Cultures were then fixed and stained for TRAP to identify osteoclasts on the slices. Cells were removed from the slices with cotton swabs, and the slices subjected to TRAP and Mayer's hematoxylin staining. Small TRAP-positive spots (TRAP-marks) were detected in the resorption pits stained with Mayer's hematoxylin. Pitted areas were not always located in the places of osteoclasts, but osteoclasts existed on all TRAP-marks. A time course experiment showed that the number of TRAP-marks was maintained, while the number of resorption pits increased with the culture period. The position of actin rings formed in osteoclasts corresponded to that of TRAP-marks on dentin slices. Immunostaining of dentin slices showed that both cathepsin K and vacuolar proton ATPase were colocalized with the TRAP-marks. Treatment of osteoclast cultures with alendronate, a bisphosphonate, suppressed the formation of TRAP-marks and resorption pits without affecting the cell viability. Calcitonin induced the disappearance of both actin rings and TRAP-marks in osteoclast cultures. These results suggest that TRAP-marks are vestiges of proteins secreted by polarized osteoclasts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1331-1339
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin rings
  • Cathepsin K
  • Osteoclasts
  • TRAP-marks
  • V-ATPase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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