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Mol Cells. 2019 Oct 29. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2019.0023. [Epub ahead of print]

Hypoxia Mediates Runt-Related Transcription Factor 2 Expression via Induction of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Periodontal Ligament Stem Cells.

Xu Q1,2,3, Liu Z1,3, Guo L1, Liu R1, Li R1, Chu X1, Yang J1, Luo J1, Chen F4, Deng M1.

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Department of Stomatology, Daping Hospital & Research Institute of Surgery, Army Medical University, Chongqing 400042, China.
Department of Stomatology, Children's Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400014, China.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Department of Periodontology, School of Stomatology, Air Force Medical University, Xi'an 710032, China.


Periodontitis is characterized by the loss of periodontal tissues, especially alveolar bone. Common therapies cannot satisfactorily recover lost alveolar bone. Periodontal ligament stem cells (PDLSCs) possess the capacity of self-renewal and multilineage differentiation and are likely to recover lost alveolar bone. In addition, periodontitis is accompanied by hypoxia, and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is a master transcription factor in the response to hypoxia. Thus, we aimed to ascertain how hypoxia affects runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), a key osteogenic marker, in the osteogenesis of PDLSCs. In this study, we found that hypoxia enhanced the protein expression of HIF-1α, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and RUNX2 ex vivo and in situ. VEGF is a target gene of HIF-1α, and the increased expression of VEGF and RUNX2 proteins was enhanced by cobalt chloride (CoCl2, 100 μmol/L), an agonist of HIF-1α, and suppressed by 3-(5'-hydroxymethyl-2'-furyl)-1-benzyl indazole (YC-1, 10 μmol/L), an antagonist of HIF-1α. In addition, VEGF could regulate the expression of RUNX2, as RUNX2 expression was enhanced by human VEGF (hVEGF165) and suppressed by VEGF siRNA. In addition, knocking down VEGF could decrease the expression of osteogenesis-related genes, i.e., RUNX2, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and type I collagen (COL1), and hypoxia could enhance the expression of ALP, COL1, and osteocalcin (OCN) in the early stage of osteogenesis of PDLSCs. Taken together, our results showed that hypoxia could mediate the expression of RUNX2 in PDLSCs via HIF-1α-induced VEGF and play a positive role in the early stage of osteogenesis of PDLSCs.


hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor-1α; mesenchymal stromal cells; runt-related transcription factor 2; vascular endothelial growth factor

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