Despite biochemical demonstration of acid phosphatase (AcP) activation or reactivation in bone, few attempts have been made to show similar effects histochemically. Bones from growing rats, when fixed in 4% buffered formaldehyde at room temperature and demineralized in 5% formic acid, exhibited expected inactivation of AcP. The inhibited AcP, however, was reactivated by pre-incubation of sections for 1 hr at 37°C in the following buffers: 0.2 M Tris, 0.2 M glycine, 0.2 M NaHCO3, or 0.1 M borax, as well as in alkaline water, but not in 0.2 M Na2HPO4 (all at pH 9). The reactivation was (a) site-specific (e.g., osteoclasts, osteoblasts, osteocytes, and cement lines), (b) temperature- and pH-dependent, (c) unaffected by OH- or SH--binding agents or by an alkaline phosphatase inhibitor, and (d) inhibited completely by 10mM Na2HPO4. The reactivation process, much simplified and/or more effective than with the methods previously reported, was observed in all 83 human biopsy bones embedded in methyl methacrylate and in human bones stored in cold buffered formaldehyde for 7 monts. This study demonstrates a unique method for reactivating and thus localizing the inhibited AcP in bones, and suggests possible applications in bone histomorphometry.
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