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Calcif Tissue Int. 1992 Oct;51(4):305-11.

Mechanism of action of beta-glycerophosphate on bone cell mineralization.

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Department of Orthodontics, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6003.


Experiments were performed to determine whether beta-glycerophosphate (beta-GP) promoted mineralization in vitro by modulating bone cell metabolic activity and/or serving as a local source of inorganic phosphate ions (Pi). Using MC3T3-E1, ROS 17/2.8, and chick osteoblast-like cells in the presence of beta-GP or Pi, we examined mineral formation, lactate generation, alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity, and protein and phospholipid synthesis. Neither beta-GP nor Pi modulated any of the major biosynthetic activities of the bone cells. Thus, we found no change in the levels of phospholipids, and the total protein concentration remained constant. Measurement of lactate synthesis showed that beta-GP did not effect the rate of anaerobic glycolysis. Evaluation of medium Pi levels clearly indicated that beta-GP was hydrolyzed by bone cells; within 24 hours, almost 80% of 10 mM beta-GP was hydrolyzed. It is likely that this local increase in medium Pi concentration promoted rapid mineral deposition. Chemical, energy dispersive X-ray, and Fourier transform infrared analysis of the mineral formed in the presence of beta-GP showed that it was nonapatitic; moreover, mineral particles were also seen in the culture medium itself. Experiments performed with a cell-free system indicated that mineral particles formed spontaneously in the presence of AP and beta-GP and were deposited into a collagen matrix. We conclude that medium supplementation with beta-GP or Pi should not exceed 2 mM. If this value is exceeded, then there will be nonphysiological mineral deposition in the bone cell culture.

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