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Nat Biotechnol. 2000 Sep;18(9):954-8.

Three-dimensional cellular development is essential for ex vivo formation of human bone.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.


Tissue engineering of human bone is a complex process, as the functional development of bone cells requires that regulatory signals be temporally and spatially ordered. The role of three-dimensional cellular interactions is well understood in embryonic osteogenesis, but in vitro correlates are lacking. Here we report that in vitro serum-free transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 stimulation of osteogenic cells immediately after passage results in the formation of three-dimensional cellular condensations (bone cell spheroids) within 24 to 48 hours. In turn, bone cell spheroid formation results in the up-regulation of several bone-related proteins (e.g., alkaline phosphatase, type I collagen, osteonectin) during days 3-7, and the concomitant formation of micro-crystalline bone. This system of ex vivo bone formation should provide important information on the physiological, biological and molecular basis of osteogenesis.

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