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Bone. 2007 Apr;40(4):1078-87. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

Hypoxia affects mesenchymal stromal cell osteogenic differentiation and angiogenic factor expression.

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Laboratoire de Recherches Orthopédiques (B2OA), UMR CNRS 7052, Faculté de Médecine Lariboisière-Saint-Louis, 10 Avenue de Verdun, 75010 Paris, France.


Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) seeded onto biocompatible scaffolds have been proposed for repairing bone defects. When transplanted in vivo, MSCs (expanded in vitro in 21% O(2)) undergo temporary oxygen deprivation due to the lack of pre-existing blood vessels within these scaffolds. In the present study, the effects of temporary (48 h) exposure to hypoxia (<or=1% O(2)) on primary human MSC survival and osteogenic potential were investigated. Temporary exposure of MSCs to hypoxia had no effect on MSC survival, but resulted in (i) persistent (up to 14 days post exposure) down-regulation of cbfa-1/Runx2, osteocalcin and type I collagen and (ii) permanent (up to 28 days post exposure) up-regulation of osteopontin mRNA expressions. Since angiogenesis is known to contribute crucially to alleviating hypoxia, the effects of temporary hypoxia on angiogenic factor expression by MSCs were also assessed. Temporary hypoxia led to a 2-fold increase in VEGF expression at both the mRNA and protein levels. Other growth factors and cytokines secreted by MSCs under control conditions (namely bFGF, TGFbeta1 and IL-8) were not affected by temporary exposure to hypoxia. All in all, these results indicate that temporary exposure of MSCs to hypoxia leads to limited stimulation of angiogenic factor secretion but to persistent down-regulation of several osteoblastic markers, which suggests that exposure of MSCs transplanted in vivo to hypoxia may affect their bone forming potential. These findings prompt for the development of appropriate cell culture or in vivo transplantation conditions preserving the full osteogenic potential of MSCs.

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