Studies on the origin, identification, and characterization of osteoclasts have been difficult. This is in part due to a lack of definitive osteoclast markers and the similarity of these cells in form and function to cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system. To solve this problem, we inoculated isolated chick osteoclasts into mice to generate osteoclast-specific monoclonal antibodies. Supernatants from growth-positive hybridomas were screened by indirect immunofluorescent methods against cultured osteoclasts, monocyte-derived multinucleated giant cells, cultured monocytes, fibroblasts, and limb mesenchyme. Select hybridomas were cloned to produce 375 clones, which were analyzed as described above. Antibody from select clones was also reacted with paraffin sections of bone. In addition, two clones have been analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Western blot analysis. Antibody binding from an osteoclast-specific clone and a clone reactive with osteoclasts, giant cells, and cultured monocytes (as determined by immunohistochemical assay) was confirmed by antibody-binding and titration curves quantitated by ELISA. The above studies demonstrate that osteoclast specific antigens exist, and that osteoclasts, giant cells, and cultured monocytes share common determinants not found on other cells screened.

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