Optimal methods for processing mineralized tissues for Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy

Slyvia Aparicio, S. B. Doty, N. P. Camacho, E. P. Paschalis, L. Spevak, R. Mendelsohn, A. L. Boskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIRM) and infrared imaging (FTIRI) are techniques utilized in the analysis of bone mineral and matrix properties in health and disease. Since the spatial arrangement of bone tissue is conserved using FTIRM and FTIRI, quantitative data can be obtained on bone mineral (hydroxyapatite) crystalline size and composition, and on matrix structure and composition at discrete anatomic locations with a spatial resolution from ∼7 μm (FTIRI) to 10 μm (FTIRM). To section bone for FTIRM and FTIRI, it must be preserved ("fixed") to maintain its properties, and embedded in a hard supportive material. Since most of the embedding media have components that spectrally overlap the components of mineralized tissues, it is critical to define optimal embedding and fixation protocols that have the least effect on mineral and matrix spectra. In the current study, the spectra of mouse calvaria in seven different fixatives and six different commonly used embedding media were assessed by FTIRM and FTIRI. The fixatives evaluated were absolute ethanol, 70% ethanol, glycerol, formaldehyde, EM fixative, and formalin in cacodylate or phosphate-buffered saline. The embedding media tested were Araldite, Epon, JB-4, LR White, PMMA, and Spurr. Comparisons were made to FTIR spectra obtained from unprocessed ground calvaria and to spectra of cryosections of unfixed tissue, fast-frozen in polyvinyl alcohol (5% PVA). Non-aqueous fixatives and embedding in LR White, Spurr, Araldite, and PMMA had the least effect on the spectral parameters measured (mineral to matrix ratio, mineral crystallinity, and collagen maturity) compared with cryo-sectioned calvaria and non-fixed, non-embedded calvaria in KBr pellets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


  • Embedding media
  • Fixation
  • Infrared microspectroscopy
  • Infrared spectroscopy
  • Mineralized tissues


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