Study of Osteoclast Adhesion to Cortical Bone Surfaces: A Correlative Microscopy Approach for Concomitant Imaging of Cellular Dynamics and Surface Modifications

Bone remodeling relies on the coordinated functioning of osteoblasts, bone-forming cells, and osteoclasts, bone-resorbing cells. The effects of specific chemical and physical bone features on the osteoclast adhesive apparatus, the sealing zone ring, and their relation to resorption functionality are still not well-understood. We designed and implemented a correlative imaging method that enables monitoring of the same area of bone surface by time-lapse light microscopy, electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy before, during, and after exposure to osteoclasts. We show that sealing zone rings preferentially develop around surface protrusions, with lateral dimensions of several micrometers, and ∼1 μm height. Direct overlay of sealing zone rings onto resorption pits on the bone surface shows that the rings adapt to pit morphology. The correlative procedure presented here is noninvasive and performed under ambient conditions, without the need for sample labeling. It can potentially be applied to study various aspects of cell-matrix interactions.