Culturing and Measuring Fetal and Newborn Murine Long Bones

J Vis Exp. 2019 Apr 26:(146). doi: 10.3791/59509.


Long bones are complex and dynamic structures, which arise from endochondral ossification via a cartilage intermediate. The limited access to healthy human bones makes particularly valuable the use of mammalian models, such as mouse and rat, to look into different aspects of bone growth and homeostasis. Additionally, the development of sophisticated genetic tools in mice allows more complex studies of long bone growth and asks for an expansion of techniques used to study bone growth. Here, we present a detailed protocol for ex vivo murine bone culture, which allows the study of bone and cartilage in a tightly controlled manner while recapitulating most of the in vivo process. The method described allows the culture of a range of bones, including tibia, femur, and metatarsal bones, but we have focused mainly on tibial culture here. Moreover, it can be used in combination with other techniques, such as time-lapse live imaging or drug treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Fetus / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Tibia / drug effects
  • Tibia / embryology*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology


  • Tretinoin