Ultracytochemical investigation of calcium‐activated adenosine triphosphatase (Ca++‐ATPase) in chick tibia

Toshitaka Akisaka, Toshio Yamamoto, Carol V. Gay

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The ultrastructural distribution of Ca++‐ATPase in bone cells of growing chick tibia was investigated by a cytochemical method in order to gain insight into possible sites of calcium ion translocation. Both osteoclasts and osteoblasts showed a polar distribution of reaction product along the plasma membrane. In osteoclasts, enzymatic activity occurred along the portion of the plasma membrane facing the marrow but not along the ruffled border or clear zone. The reaction product in these cells was due solely to Ca++‐ATPase action. In osteoblasts, the plasma membrane facing away from bone (apical and lateral membrane) was very intensely stained, whereas the basal membrane was unstained. The reaction product in these cells appeared to be the result of both Ca++‐ATPase and Ca++, Mg++‐ATPase. In osteocytes, no plasma membrane staining was detectable. Mitochondrial staining in all three types of cells was more sensitive to fixation than was the plasma membrane enzyme, suggesting that mitochondrial and plasma membrane Ca++‐ATPases are chemically distinct, as biochemical studies have shown. In general, mitochondria in osteoclasts stained more intensely than those in osteoblasts or osteocytes. Mitochondrial and vesicular sites of activity may be related to intracellular calcium storage, whereas calcium ATPases of the plasma membrane are presumed to be involved in calcium efflux from the cells. Calcitonin treatment did not alter the enzymatic distribution or intensity in osteoclasts. The striking polar distribution of both osteoclast and osteoblast plasma‐membrane activity suggests that directional calcium pumping by these cells may be of importance in bone‐forming and bone‐resorbing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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