Recently, live cell imaging approaches have been applied to the study of osteocytes. The development by Kalajzic et al. of transgenic mice
expressing the GFPtopaz reporter variant under control of the osteocyte-selective dentin matrix protein-1 (Dmp1) promoter  has underpinned such studies of osteocytes in situ within their environment. Organ cultures of neonatal calvaria from these mice have provided a useful model for imaging the dynamic properties of osteocytes , ,  and . Another way in which this model can be used for imaging osteocyte SGI-1776 dynamics is by using long term cultures of primary osteoblasts isolated from these mice ,  and . These cells differentiate when cultured under mineralizing conditions to form mineralized nodules in which the transition to the osteocyte-like phenotype can be monitored by GFP expression. To gain maximum information, imaging of the GFP reporter can be combined with other fluorescent probes, such as alizarin red to monitor mineral deposition. The mice can also be crossed with other transgenic reporter lines, for example mouse lines in
which the osteoblasts are tagged with GFPcyan . The old view of the osteocyte was as an Selleckchem BAY 80-6946 immobilized, inactive cell. However, live imaging of osteocytes in neonatal calvarial organ cultures or primary mineralizing bone cell cultures from Dmp1-GFP transgenic mice has shown that osteocytes may actually have dynamic properties that were not previously appreciated , ,  and . These studies L-NAME HCl have revealed that the dendritic connections between osteocytes may not be permanent but rather the dendrites are repeatedly extended
and retracted (Fig. 4). Transient dendritic connections appeared to be made between adjacent osteocytes and the osteocytes also showed deformations/undulating motions of their cell bodies within their lacunae, suggesting that even though they are entrapped within a lacuna, they remain active and still exhibit motile properties  and . The deformations that the osteocyte cell body undergoes within its lacunae were measured and averaged around 3% but could be as high as 12%. One implication from this is that the strains experienced by an osteocyte within its lacuna when bone is mechanically loaded may be dependent not only on the material properties of the bone itself but also potentially on the configuration of the osteocyte within its lacuna. The more recent development of transgenic mice expressing a membrane targeted GFP variant selectively in osteocytes has provided a new tool for more precise imaging of osteocytes and their dendritic processes/membrane dynamics in living bone .