Protocol of Co-Culture of Human Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts to Test Biomaterials for Bone Tissue Engineering

Methods and Protocols 5.1 (2022): 8
Giorgia Borciani, Giorgia Montalbano, Nicola Baldini, Chiara Vitale-Brovarone and Gabriela Ciapetti

New biomaterials and scaffolds for bone tissue engineering (BTE) applications require to be tested in a bone microenvironment reliable model. On this assumption, the in vitro laboratory protocols with bone cells represent worthy experimental systems improving our knowledge about bone homeostasis, reducing the costs of experimentation. To this day, several models of the bone microenvironment are reported in the literature, but few delineate a protocol for testing new biomaterials using bone cells. Herein we propose a clear protocol to set up an indirect co-culture system of human-derived osteoblasts and osteoclast precursors, providing well-defined criteria such as the cell seeding density, cell:cell ratio, the culture medium, and the proofs of differentiation. The material to be tested may be easily introduced in the system and the cell response analyzed. The physical separation of osteoblasts and osteoclasts allows distinguishing the effects of the material onto the two cell types and to evaluate the correlation between material and cell behavior, cell morphology, and adhesion. The whole protocol requires about 4 to 6 weeks with an intermediate level of expertise. The system is an in vitro model of the bone remodeling system useful in testing innovative materials for bone regeneration, and potentially exploitable in different application fields. The use of human primary cells represents a close replica of the bone cell cooperation in vivo and may be employed as a feasible system to test materials and scaffolds for bone substitution and regeneration.