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Open Access Technical Note

A rapid method for the generation of uniform acellular bone explants: a technical note

Katharina Jähn12, Volker Braunstein3, Pamela I Furlong1, Angharad E Simpson1, R Geoff Richards12 and Martin J Stoddart1*

Author Affiliations

1 AO Research Institute, Clavadelerstrasse 8, 7270 Davos, Switzerland

2 Cardiff University, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, (UK), CF103AX

3 Chirurgische Klinik und Poliklinik Innenstadt, Nußbaumstr. 20, 80336, München, Germany

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2010, 5:32  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-5-32

Published: 10 May 2010



Bone graft studies lack standardized controls. We aim to present a quick and reliable method for the intra-operative generation of acellular bone explants.


Therefore, ovine cancellous bone explants from the iliac crest were prepared and used to test several methods for the induction of cell death. Over night heat inactivation was used as positive treatment control, methods to be investigated included UV light, or X- ray exposure, incubation in a hypotonic solution (salt-free water) and a short cycle of repeated freezing and thawing.


Viability of treated and 2 days cultured bone explants was investigated by lactate dehydrogenase assay. Non-treated cultured control explants maintained around 50% osteocyte viability, while osteocyte survival after the positive treatment control was abolished. The most dramatic loss in cell viability, together with a low standard deviation, was a repeated cycle of freezing and thawing.


To summarize, we present a freeze-thaw method for the creation of acellular bone explants, which is easy to perform, not time-consuming and provides consistent results.