Bone surface morphology reflects local skeletal metabolism

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The metabolic activity of bone cells is faithfully reflected in the surface topography of mineralized bone surfaces, and this can be easily detected by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Forming bone surfaces exhibit knobby projections which represent foci of mineralization, resorbing surfaces are scalloped, and resting surfaces undergoing neither activity are smooth, as shown by Boyde and Hobdell 25 years ago. These phenomena are illustrated in vivo by tooth eruption, a local activity in alveolar bone where resorption and formation are polarized around an erupting tooth, and osteopetrosis, a metabolic bone disease characterized by a congenital reduction or absence of bone resorption. The ability to analyze bone metabolism over large areas of the skeleton by SEM offers a convenient and powerful microscopic technique to assess regional and global bone cell activity in an era where the investigative focus is increasingly molecular.

DOI of Published Version



Microsc Res Tech. 1996 Feb 1;33(2):121-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Microscopy research and technique

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID