The pathway of ion supply from the source to the site of bone deposition in vertebrates is thought to involve transport through the vasculature, followed by ion concentration in osteoblasts. The cells deposit a precursor mineral phase in vesicles, which are then exocytosed into the extracellular matrix. We observed that the entire skeleton of zebrafish larvae, is labelled within minutes after injection of calcein or FITC-dextran into the blood. This raised the possibility that there is an additional pathway of solute transport that can account for the rapid labelling. We used cryo-FIB-SEM serial block face imaging to reconstruct at high resolution the 3D ultrastructure of the caudal tail of the zebrafish larva. This reconstruction clearly shows that there is a continuous intercellular pathway from the artery to the forming bone, and from the forming bone to the vein. Fluorescence light microscopy shows that calcein and FITC-dextran form a reticulate network pattern in this tissue, which we attribute to the dye being present in the intercellular space. We conclude that this intercellular continuous space may be a supply route for ions, mineral and other solute or particulate material to the fast forming bone.
- Forming bone
- Intercellular space