Ultrastructural observations on chick bone processed by quick-freezing and freeze-substitution

Toshitaka Akisaka, Gus Permana Subita, Yoshio Shigenaga

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The ultrastructure of newly formed bone was examined with the use of quick-freezing followed by freeze-substitution. Osteoblasts and young osteocytes were characterized by a smooth cell contour, whereas old osteocytes were irregular in shape. The plasma and intracytoplasmic membranes were clearly identifiable as trilaminar substructures. With the method described herein the tissue is handled in the anhydrous state. Thus mitochondrial granules could be demonstrated in all samples, since their preservation is not affected by non-aqueous solutions. The matrices of intact mitochondria were densely stained with poststaining. The contents of the Golgi complex, rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum (RER), nuclear envelope, vesicles, and vacuoles were stained to various degrees. Lacunar spaces were always filled with flocculent and filamentous materials, and the plasma membrane was in direct contact with them. Membrane-bounded matrix vesicles were clearly visible within the osteoid extracellular matrix which was the initial site of mineral crystal deposition. In heavily mineralized bone matrix, the periodic pattern of collagen fibrils was retained, and the electron density of mineralized matrix in freeze-substituted and unstained sections which had been floated on ethylene glycol was greater than that encountered in sections processed in aqueous reagents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-475
Number of pages7
JournalCell And Tissue Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1987


  • Chicken
  • Freeze-substitution
  • Matrix vesicle
  • Newly formed bone
  • Quick freezing


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