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Matrix Biol. 2010 Apr;29(3):219-27. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2009.12.005. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Using human neural crest-derived progenitor cells to investigate osteogenesis: an in vitro study.

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Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), Bonn, Germany.


Human tooth contains a distinct population of neural crest-derived progenitor cells (dNC-PCs) which are known to give rise to specialized daughter cells of an osteogenic lineage. We hypothesised that dNC-PCs could develop into neural crest-derived bone in a self-propagating and extracorporal culture system. Thus, we examined the three-dimensional structure obtained from osteogenic-stimulated dNC-PCs by morphological, biochemical and spectroscopic methods. After the onset of stimulation, cells formed a multilayer with outer cells covering the surface and inner cells secreting a hyaline matrix. With prolonged culture, multilayers contracted and formed a three-dimensional construct which subsequently converted to a calcified mass. Differentiation of progenitor cells was associated with apoptosis. Cell types which survived were smooth muscle actin-positive cells and bone-like cells. The expression of osteoblastic markers and the secretion of a collagenous matrix indicate that the bone cells had acquired their functional phenotype. Furthermore, these cells produced and secreted membrane-bound vesicles into the newly forming matrix. Consequently, an early biomineralized extracellular matrix was found with calcium phosphate deposits being associated with the newly formed collagen matrix framework. The molar calcium-phosphorus-ratio of the mineralized collagen indicated that amorphous calcium phosphate was present within this matrix. The data suggest that stimulated cultures of dNC-PCs are able to recapitulate some processes of the early phase of osteogenesis.

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