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Biomaterials. 2000 Jun;21(11):1095-102.

Human bone cell cultures in biocompatibility testing. Part II: effect of ascorbic acid, beta-glycerophosphate and dexamethasone on osteoblastic differentiation.

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Faculdade de Medicina Dentária da Universidade do Porto, Portugal.


This work analyses the proliferation/differentiation behaviour of human bone marrow cells cultured in alpha-minimum essential medium supplemented with 10% foetal bovine serum (standard medium) and in the presence of ascorbic acid (AA, 50 microg ml(-1)), beta-glycerophosphate (betaGP, 10 mmol) and dexamethasone (Dex, 10 nmol) under selected experimental conditions. Cultures were compared concerning cell morphology, cell growth, ALP activity and ability to form calcium phosphate deposits. Cells growing in the various experimental conditions proliferated gradually with the incubation time and presented high ALP activity. Cultures grown in standard medium and in the presence of either AA or Dex failed to form calcium phosphate deposits. Cultures grown in the presence of betaGP, betaGP + AA and betaGP + AA + Dex, i.e. in the presence of a source of phosphate ions, showed the formation of a mineralised extracellular matrix. The presence of Dex resulted in a significant induction in the ALP activity and ability to form mineral deposits. The behaviour of the various cell cultures is in agreement with previous studies stating a reciprocal and functionally coupled relationship between proliferation and differentiation, i.e. cultures grown in a medium containing betaGP presented a less proliferative but more differentiated osteoblastic cell population, as compared to cultures lacking the mineralisation process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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