A system is described for the formation of bone tissue in culture from isolated rat bone cells. The isolated bone cells were obtained from embryonic rat calvarium and periosteum or from traumatized, lifted periosteum of young rats. The cells were cultured for a period of up to 8 wk, during which time the morphological, biochemical, and functional properties of the cultures were studied. Formation of bone tissue by these isolated bone cells was shown, in that the cells demonstrated osteoblastic morphology in light and electron microscopy, the collagen formed was similar to bone collagen, there was mineralization specific for bone, and the cells reacted to the hormone calcitonin by increased calcium ion uptake. Calcification of the fine structure of the cells and the matrix is described. Three stages in the calcification process were observed by electron microscopy. It is concluded that these bone cells growing in vitro are able to function in a way similar to such cells in vivo. This tissue culture system starting from isolated bone cells is therefore suitable for studies on the structure and function of bone.

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