With the wide availability of scanning electron microscopes (SEM) in the mid-1960s, the intracortical and intratrabecular bone microstructure became accessible to a broader researcher community and could be imaged at resolutions beyond the diffraction limit of visible light at a few hundred nanometers. This allowed visualization of canaliculi with diameters on the same scale, i.e. a few hundred nanometers as shown for example in , where canalicular numbers were derived from measurements BIBF 1120 order based on light microscopy and SEM. Casting protocols for SEM imaging originally developed to display the microstructure of dentin were adapted to image the LCN within
cortical bone and more recently they were further developed  (Fig. 1a). Nonetheless, the basic imaging principle remained essentially the same, namely to present http://www.selleckchem.com/products/AP24534.html a replica of the LCN using SEM after complete or partial acid-etching of the mineralized bone matrix. In their study on the role of osteocytes in mineral metabolism, Feng et al.  showed that loss of dentin matrix protein (DMP1), which is substantially expressed in osteocytes, causes rickets and osteomalacia. Moreover,
using SEM images of acid-etched bone samples from Dmp1-null mice, abnormalities in the distribution and organization of the LCN were reported, which are due to Dmp1 ablation. Another approach to image the intracortical and intratrabecular bone microstructure and cellular structure is confocal microscopy, whose principles were Montelukast Sodium developed in the 1950s and whose first applications on bone tissue were published in the mid 1980s. In contrast to inherently two-dimensional (2D) imaging techniques such as light microscopy and SEM, in confocal microscopy, optical sections at different
focal planes can be stacked together to generate a three-dimensional (3D) representation of the sample under investigation. Endogenous (auto)fluorescence of the bone tissue can be used to provide contrast for confocal microscopy measurements of the LCN. More often, various fluorescent staining agents are used in conjunction with modern confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), such as rhodamine and fluorescein, which can be incubated with undecalcified bone sections and will be taken up into the LCN . More specific staining agents, such as fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated phalloidin and DAPI, label the actin skeleton of osteocytes and/or the DNA of their cell nucleus in such a way that the components of the osteocyte network can be directly imaged  and separately displayed in 3D  (Fig. 2). This provides an image of the cellular structures themselves, in contrast to the SEM assessment of the LCN, which represents a negative imprint of the mineralized bone matrix only. CLSM has been used specifically to demonstrate the correlation between the organization of the osteocyte network and the collagen orientation , which is important for bone mechanics.