Simultaneous Demonstration of Bone Alkaline and Acid Phosphatase Activities in Plastic-Embedded Sections and Differential Inhibition of the Activities

Histochemistry. 1987;86(6):559-65. doi: 10.1007/BF00489547.


Bone alkaline (AlP) and acid phosphatase (AcP) activities were simultaneously demonstrated in tissue sections obtained from mice, rats, and humans. The method involved tissue fixation in ethanol, embedding in glycol methacrylate (GMA), and demonstration of AlP and AcP activities employing a simultaneous coupling azo dye technique using substituted naphthol phosphate as a substrate. AlP activity was demonstrated first followed by AcP activity. Both enzyme activities were demonstrated in tissue sections from bones fixed and/or stored in acetone or 70% ethanol for up to 14 days or stored in GMA for 2 months. AlP activity in tissue sections from bones fixed in 10% formalin, 2% glutaraldehyde, or formal-calcium, however, was markedly inhibited after 3-7 days and was no longer detectable after 14 days of fixation. Moreover, AlP activity was diminished in tissue sections from bones fixed in 70% ethanol or 10% formalin and subsequently demineralized in 10% EDTA (pH 7) for 2 days, and the activity was completely abolished in tissue sections from bones subsequently demineralized in 5% formic acid: 20% sodium citrate (1:1, pH 4.2) for 2 days. Methyl methacrylate (MMA) embedding at concentrations above 66% completely inhibited AlP activity. AcP activity, however, was only partially inhibited by formalin, glutaraldehyde, or formal-calcium after 7 or 14 days of fixation or by MMA embedding and was unaffected by the demineralizing agent formic acid-citrate for 2 days. While AcP activity was preserved in bones fixed in formalin and subsequently demineralized in EDTA, the activity was completely abolished when EDTA demineralization was carried out on bones previously fixed in 70% ethanol.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Acid Phosphatase / metabolism*
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / enzymology*
  • Fixatives
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Methacrylates
  • Methylmethacrylate
  • Methylmethacrylates
  • Mice
  • Minerals / isolation & purification
  • Rats


  • Fixatives
  • Methacrylates
  • Methylmethacrylates
  • Minerals
  • Methylmethacrylate
  • hydroxyethyl methacrylate
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Acid Phosphatase