Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 81–97

Histochemical and electron microscope investigations on medullary bone

  • E. Bonucci
  • G. Gherardi

DOI: 10.1007/BF00218592

Cite this article as:
Bonucci, E. & Gherardi, G. Cell Tissue Res. (1975) 163: 81. doi:10.1007/BF00218592


Folliculin administration to pigeons stimulates the development of medullary bone in marrow spaces of the femora and other long bones. It is a specialized osseus tissue not devoted to mechanical functions and which is rapidly reabsorbed before egg-shell formation.

Medullary bone is formed and reabsorbed in the same way as other types of bone. Consequently, because of its very rapid rate of formation and resorption, it represents an ideal tissue for studying osteoblastic, osteoclastic and osteocytic activity, and the calcification process.

Medullary bone is deeply stained by PAS, Alcian blue and colloidal iron and is metachromatic after toluidine blue staining. This shows that its interfibrillary ground substance contains relatively high amounts of glycoproteins and acid proteoglycans.

Calcification initially occurs in matrix vesicles (or calcifying globules) which are very numerous between the collagen fibrils of the osteoid tissue, and successively spreads into the surrounding interfibrillar matrix. Here, the crystals are closely related to thin, filament-like organic structures which seem to be components of ground substance proteoglycans.

These findings confirm that in medullary bone, as in other types of calcifying tissue, the inorganic substance is initially laid down within calcifying globules and is successively closely related to organic, non-collagenous, filamentous organic structures (crystal ghosts) which probably represent a framework for calcium salt deposition.

Key words

Medullary boneBone ultrastructureBone histochemistryCalcificationOrganic-inorganic relationships

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Bonucci
    • 1
  • G. Gherardi
    • 1
  1. 1.1∘ Istituto di Anatomia e Istologia Patologica, Policlinico Umberto IRomaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Anatomia Patologica, Policlinico Umberto IRomaItaly