In situ Raman imaging of osteoblastic mineralization



Hydroxyapatite (HA) is synthesized at early stages of bone formation by osteoblasts. Nondestructive observation of early stages of osteoblastic mineralization provides crucial information for biological mechanism of bone formation. Raman microscopy serves as an ideal tool to observe the osteoblastic mineralization process because it shows the chemical information of the sample at a minimally invasive level. In addition, HA is a marker for osteoblastic mineralization, and HA Raman signal is strong enough to identify mineralized spots in osteoblasts. In this research, we visualized the distribution of HA in cultured mouse osteoblasts by Raman imaging and observed the location of the mineralized spots in the culture. We monitored HA Raman signal from osteoblast culture for 3 days after administrating the osteogenic differentiation medium and observed Raman signal associated with HA. We identified mineralized spots of KUSA-A1 by Raman imaging constructed from the distribution of HA Raman signal. We successfully visualized the distribution of the mineralized spots in the culture of KUSA-A1. We compared our Raman images with Alizarin red S staining assay, which was a conventional method to evaluate the mineralization process. Raman imaging of the KUSA-A1 culture visualized the mineralized spots more accurately than Alizarin red S staining assay. Raman imaging of HA serves as a powerful tool to identify the mineralized spots in an in vitro culture of osteogenic lineage cells. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.