Live imaging of bone cell and organ cultures

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;816:425-57. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-415-5_26.


Over the past two decades there have been unprecedented advances in the capabilities for live cell imaging using light and confocal microscopy. Together with the discovery of green fluorescent protein and its derivatives and the development of a vast array of fluorescent imaging probes and conjugates, it is now possible to image virtually any intracellular or extracellular protein or structure. Traditional static imaging of fixed bone cells and tissues takes a snapshot view of events at a specific time point, but can often miss the dynamic aspects of the events being investigated. This chapter provides an overview of the application of live cell imaging approaches for the study of bone cells and bone organ cultures. Rather than emphasizing technical aspects of the imaging equipment, we have focused on what we consider to be the important principles that are of most practical use for an investigator setting up these techniques in their own laboratory, together with detailed protocols that our laboratory has used for live imaging of bone cell and organ cultures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / cytology*
  • Bone and Bones / ultrastructure
  • Cell Survival
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / instrumentation
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Organ Culture Techniques* / methods
  • Osteocytes / cytology*
  • Osteocytes / ultrastructure*