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Culture of Murine Embryonic Metatarsals: A Physiological Model of Endochondral Ossification

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54978
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2016


The fundamental process of endochondral ossification is under tight regulation in the healthy individual so as to prevent disturbed development and/or longitudinal bone growth. As such, it is imperative that we further our understanding of the underpinning molecular mechanisms involved in such disorders so as to provide advances towards human and animal patient benefit. The mouse metatarsal organ explant culture is a highly physiological ex vivo model for studying endochondral ossification and bone growth as the growth rate of the bones in culture mimic that observed in vivo. Uniquely, the metatarsal organ culture allows the examination of chondrocytes in different phases of chondrogenesis and maintains cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, therefore providing conditions closer to the in vivo situation than cells in monolayer or 3D culture. This protocol describes in detail the intricate dissection of embryonic metatarsals from the hind limb of E15 murine embryos and the subsequent analyses that can be performed in order to examine endochondral ossification and longitudinal bone growth.

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