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J Bone Miner Res. 1994 Jun;9(6):843-54.

Effects of ascorbic acid on collagen matrix formation and osteoblast differentiation in murine MC3T3-E1 cells.

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Department of Periodontics, Prevention, and Geriatrics, University of Michigan School of Dentistry and Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor.


Treatment of mouse MC3T3-E1 cells with ascorbic acid initiates the formation of a collagenous extracellular matrix and synthesis of several osteoblast-related proteins. We recently showed that ascorbic acid dramatically increases alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin mRNAs and that this induction is blocked by inhibitors of collagen triple-helix formation (Franceschi and Iyer, J Bone Miner Res 7:235). In the present study, the relationship between collagen matrix formation and osteoblast-specific gene expression is explored in greater detail. Kinetic studies revealed that ascorbic acid increased proline hydroxylation in the intracellular procollagen pool within 1 h and stimulated the cleavage of type I collagen propeptides beginning at 2.5 h. Mature alpha 1(I) and alpha 2(I) collagen components were first detected at 10 h and continued to increase in both cell layer and culture medium for up to 72 h. Ascorbic acid also increased the rate of procollagen secretion from cell layers to culture medium. The secretion of another matrix protein, fibronectin, was only slightly affected. Alkaline phosphatase or its mRNA was first detected 2-3 days after ascorbic acid addition, but osteocalcin mRNA was not seen until day 6. Two inhibitors of collagen triple-helix formation, ethyl-3,4-dihydroxybenzoate and 3,4-dehydroproline, inhibited procollagen hydroxylation and alkaline phosphatase induction. 3,4-Dehydroproline also inhibited the induction of alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin mRNAs. Surprisingly, induction was not blocked if cells were exposed to ascorbic acid before inhibitor addition. Alkaline phosphatase was also partially inhibited if cells were grown in the presence of purified bacterial collagenase. These results indicate that the induction of osteoblast markers by ascorbic acid does not require the continuous hydroxylation and processing of procollagens and suggest that a stable, possibly matrix-associated signal is generated at early times after ascorbic acid addition that allows subsequent induction of osteoblast-related genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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