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1.  Adipose Stem Cell Microbeads as Production Sources for Chondrogenic Growth Factors 
Microencapsulating stem cells in injectable microbeads can enhance delivery and localization, but their ability to act as growth factor production sources is still unknown. To address this concern, growth factor mRNA levels and production from alginate microbeads with encapsulated human adipose stem cells (ASC microbeads) cultured in both growth and chondrogenic media (GM and CM) were measured over a two week period. Human ASCs in microbeads were either commercially purchased (Lonza) or isolated from six human donors and compared to human ASCs on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS). The effects of crosslinking and alginate compositions on growth factor mRNA levels and production were also determined. Secretion profiles of IGF-I, TGF-β3 and VEGF-A from commercial human ASC microbeads were linear and at a significantly higher rate than TCPS cultures over two weeks. For human ASCs derived from different donors, microencapsulation increased pthlh and both IGF-I and TGF-β3 secretion. CM decreased fgf2 and VEGF-A secretion from ASC microbeads derived from the same donor population. Crosslinking microbeads in BaCl2 instead of CaCl2 did not eliminate microencapsulation’s beneficial effects, but did decrease IGF-I production. Increasing the guluronate content of the alginate microbead increased IGF-I retention. Decreasing alginate molecular weight eliminated the effects microencapsulation had on increasing IGF-I secretion. This study demonstrated that microencapsulation can enhance chondrogenic growth factor production and that chondrogenic medium treatment can decrease angiogenic growth factor production from ASCs, making these cells a potential source for paracrine factors that can stimulate cartilage regeneration.
PMCID: PMC4329461
Microencapsulation; Adipose stem cells; Alginate; Growth factor delivery; Cartilage
3.  Tailoring Adipose Stem Cell Trophic Factor Production with Differentiation Medium Components to Regenerate Chondral Defects 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2013;19(11-12):1451-1464.
Recent endeavors to use stem cells as trophic factor production sources have the potential to translate into viable therapies for damaged or diseased musculoskeletal tissues. Adipose stem cells (ASCs) can be differentiated into chondrocytes using the chondrogenic medium (CM), but it is unknown if this approach can optimize ASC growth factor secretion for cartilage regeneration by increasing the chondrogenic factor production, while decreasing angiogenic and hypertrophic factor production. The objective of this study was to determine the effects the CM and its components have on growth factor production from ASCs to promote cartilage regeneration. ASCs isolated from male Sprague-Dawley rats and cultured in monolayer or alginate microbeads were treated with either the growth medium (GM) or the CM for 5 days. In subsequent studies, ASC monolayers were treated with either the GM supplemented with different combinations of 50 μg/mL ascorbic acid-2-phosphate (AA2P), 100 nM dexamethasone (Dex), 10 ng/mL transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, and 100 ng/mL bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-6 or with the CM excluding different combinations of AA2P, Dex, TGF-β1, and BMP-6. mRNA levels and growth factor production were quantified at 8 and 24 h after the last media change, respectively. The CM increased chondrogenic factor secretion (TGF-β2, TGF-β3, and insulin-like growth factor [IGF]-I) and decreased angiogenic factor production (the vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF]-A, the fibroblast growth factor [FGF]-2). Microencapsulation in the GM increased production of the chondrogenic (IGF-I, TGF-β2) and angiogenic (VEGF-A) factors. AA2P increased secretion of chondrogenic factors (IGF-I, TGF-β2), and decreased angiogenic factor (VEGF-A) secretion, in addition to decreasing mRNA levels for factors associated with chondrocyte hypertrophy (FGF-18). Dex increased mRNA levels for hypertrophic factors (BMP-2, FGF-18) and decreased angiogenic factor secretion (VEGF-A). TGF-β1 increased angiogenic factor production (FGF-2, VEGF-A) and decreased chondrogenic factor mRNA levels (IGF-I, PTHrP). BMP-6 increased hypertrophic mRNA levels (FGF-18) and chondrogenic factor production (TGF-β2). When ASC microbeads preconditioned with the CM were implanted in a focal cartilage defect and immobilized within an RGD-conjugated hydrogel, tissue infiltration from the edges of the defect and perichondrium was observed. These results show that differentiation media components have distinct effects on ASC's production of angiogenic, chondrogenic, and hypertrophic factors and that AA2P may be the most beneficial CM component for preconditioning ASCs to stimulate cartilage regeneration.
doi:10.1089/ten.tea.2012.0233
PMCID: PMC3638517  PMID: 23350662
4.  Hyaluronic acid stimulates neovascularization during the regeneration of bone marrow after ablation 
Restoration of vasculature is a critical component for successful integration of implants in musculoskeletal tissue. Sodium hyaluronate (NaHY) has been used as a carrier for demineralized bone matrix (DBM). DBM is osteoinductive and osteoconductive, but whether NaHY by itself has an effect is not known. NaHY has been reported to promote neovascularization, suggesting it may increase neovasculature when used with DBM as well. To test this, we used a rat tibial marrow ablation model to assess neovascularization during bone formation and regeneration of marrow with different combinations of NaHY alone and NaHY+DBM. To assess neovascularization during normal healing, animals were euthanized at 3-, 6-, 14-, 21-, and 28-days post-ablation, and the vasculature perfused using a radio-opaque contrast agent. Vascular morphology was assessed using μCT and histology. Peak vessel volume within the marrow cavity was observed on day-14 post-ablation. Test materials were injected into the ablated marrow space as follows: (A) empty defect controls; (B) high MW (700–800 kDa) NaHY + heat inactivated DBM; (C) DBM in PBS; (D) low MW NaHY (35 kDa) + DBM; (E) high MW NaHY + DBM; (F) D:E 50:50; (G) low MW NaHY; (H) high MW NaHY; and (I) G:H 50:50. Neovascularization varied with bone substitute formulation. μCT results revealed that addition of NaHY resulted in an increase in vessel number compared to empty defects. Total blood vessel volume in all NaHY only groups were similar to DBM alone. Histomorphometry of sagittal sections showed that all three formulations of NaHY increased blood vessel number within the marrow cavity, confirming that NaHY promotes neovascularization.
doi:10.1002/jbm.a.33012
PMCID: PMC4296566  PMID: 21254389
rat tibial bone marrow ablation; vasculogenesis; microCT using a contrast agent to label vasculature; histomorphometry; DBM plus hyaluronic acid
5.  The role of phospholipase D in osteoblast response to titanium surface microstructure 
Biomaterial surface properties such as microtopography and energy can change cellular responses at the cell-implant interface. Phospholipase D (PLD) is required for the differentiation of osteoblast-like MG63 cells on machined and grit-blasted titanium surfaces. Here, we determined if PLD is also required on microstructured/high-energy substrates and the mechanism involved. shRNAs for human PLD1 and PLD2 were used to silence MG63 cells. Wild-type and PLD1 or PLD1/2 silenced cells were cultured on smooth-pretreatment surfaces (PT); grit-blasted, acid-etched surfaces (SLA); and SLA surfaces modified to have higher surface energy (modSLA). PLD was inhibited with ethanol or activated with 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D3 [24R,25(OH)2D3]. As surface roughness/energy increased, PLD mRNA and activity increased, cell number decreased, osteocalcin and osteoprotegerin increased, and protein kinase C (PKC) and alkaline phosphatase specific activities increased. Ethanol inhibited PLD and reduced surface effects on these parameters. There was no effect on these parameters after knockdown of PLD1, but PLD1/2 double knockdown had effects comparable to PLD inhibition. 24R,25(OH)2D3 increased PLD activity and the production of osteocalcin and osteoprotegerin, but decreased cell number on the rough/high-energy surfaces. These results confirm that surface roughness/energy-induced PLD activity is required for osteoblast differentiation and that PLD2 is the main isoform involved in this pathway. PLD is activated by 24R,25(OH)2D3 in a surface-dependent manner and inhibition of PLD reduces the effects of surface microstructure/energy on PKC, suggesting that PLD mediates the stimulatory effect of microstructured/high-energy surfaces via PKC-dependent signaling.
doi:10.1002/jbm.a.32596
PMCID: PMC4287411  PMID: 19705469
phospholipase D; osteoblast differentiation; titanium surface microstructure and surface energy; vitamin D metabolites; mechanism of cell surface interaction
6.  Role of non-canonical Wnt signaling in osteoblast maturation on microstructured titanium surfaces 
Acta biomaterialia  2011;7(6):2740-2750.
The Wnt signaling pathway inhibitor Dickkopf-2 (Dkk2) regulates osteoblast differentiation on microstructured titanium (Ti) surfaces, suggesting involvement of Wnt signaling in this process. To test this, human osteoblast-like MG63 cells were cultured on tissue culture polystyrene or Ti (smooth PT (Ra = 0.2 μm), sand-blasted and acid-etched SLA (Ra = 3.22 μm), modSLA (hydrophilic SLA)). Expression of Wnt pathway receptors, activators and inhibitors was measured by qPCR. Non-canonical pathway ligands, receptors and intracellular signaling molecules, as well as bone morphogenetic proteins BMP2 and BMP4, were upregulated on SLA and modSLA, whereas canonical pathway members were downregulated. To confirm that non-canonical signaling was involved, cells were cultured daily with exogenous Wnt3a (canonical pathway) or Wnt5a (non-canonical pathway). Alternatively, cells were cultured with antibodies to Wnt3a or Wnt5a to validate that Wnt proteins secreted by the cells were mediating cell responses to the surface. Wnt5a, but not Wnt3a, increased MG63 cell differentiation and BMP2 and BMP4 proteins, suggesting Wnt5a promotes osteogenic differentiation through production of BMPs. Effects of exogenous and endogenous Wnt5a were synergistic with surface microstructure, suggesting the response also depends on cell maturation state. These results indicate a major role for the non-canonical, calcium-dependent Wnt pathway in differentiation of osteoblasts on microstructured titanium surfaces during implant osseointegration.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2011.02.030
PMCID: PMC4287412  PMID: 21352958
Cell signaling; Titanium surface roughness; Osteoblast differentiation; Gene expression; Regulatory factors
7.  Enhancement of Surface Wettability via the Modification of Microtextured Titanium Implant Surfaces with Polyelectrolytes 
Micrometer- and submicrometer-scale surface roughness enhances osteoblast differentiation on titanium (Ti) substrates and increases bone-to-implant contact in vivo. However, the low surface wettability induced by surface roughness can retard initial interactions with the physiological environment. We examined chemical modifications of Ti surfaces [pretreated (PT), Ra ≥ 0.3 μm; sand blasted/acid etched (SLA), Ra ≥ 3.0 μm] in order to modify surface hydrophilicity. We designed coating layers of polyelectrolytes that did not alter the surface microstructure but increased surface ionic character, including chitosan (CHI), poly(l-glutamic acid) (PGA), and poly(l-lysine) (PLL). Ti disks were cleaned and sterilized. Surface chemical composition, roughness, wettability, and morphology of surfaces before and after polyelectrolyte coating were examined by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), contact mode profilometry, contact angle measurement, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). High-resolution XPS spectra data validated the formation of polyelectrolyte layers on top of the Ti surface. The surface coverage of the polyelectrolyte adsorbed on Ti surfaces was evaluated with the pertinent SEM images and XPS peak intensity as a function of polyelectrolyte adsorption time on the Ti surface. PLL was coated in a uniform thin layer on the PT surface. CHI and PGA were coated evenly on PT, albeit in an incomplete monolayer. CHI, PGA, and PLL were coated on the SLA surface with complete coverage. The selected polyelectrolytes enhanced surface wettability without modifying surface roughness. These chemically modified surfaces on implant devices can contribute to the enhancement of osteoblast differentiation.
doi:10.1021/la2000415
PMCID: PMC4287413  PMID: 21513319
8.  The Roles of Titanium Surface Micro/Nanotopography and Wettability on the Differential Response of Human Osteoblast Lineage Cells 
Acta biomaterialia  2012;9(4):6268-6277.
Surface micro and nanostructural modifications of dental and orthopaedic implants have shown promising in vitro, in vivo, and clinical results. Surface wettability has also been suggested to play an important role in osteoblast differentiation and osseointegration. However, the available techniques to measure surface wettability are not reliable on clinically-relevant, rough surfaces. Furthermore, how the differentiation state of osteoblast lineage cells impacts their response to micro/nanostructured surfaces, and the role of wettability on this response, remains unclear. In the current study, surface wettability analyses (optical sessile drop analysis, ESEM analysis, and the Wilhelmy technique) indicated hydrophobic static responses for deposited water droplets on microrough and micro/nanostructured specimens, while hydrophilic responses were observed with dynamic analyses of micro/nanostructured specimens. The maturation and local factor production of human immature osteoblast-like MG63 cells was synergistically influenced by nanostructures superimposed onto microrough titanium (Ti) surfaces. In contrast, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) cultured on micro/nanostructured surfaces in the absence of exogenous soluble factors, exhibited less robust osteoblastic differentiation and local factor production compared to cultures on unmodified microroughened Ti. Our results support previous observations using Ti6Al4V surfaces showing that recognition of surface nanostructures and subsequent cell response is dependent on the differentiation state of osteoblast lineage cells. The results also indicate that this effect may be partly modulated by surface wettability. These findings support the conclusion that the successful osseointegration of an implant depends on contributions from osteoblast lineage cells at different stages of osteoblast commitment.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2012.12.002
PMCID: PMC3618468  PMID: 23232211
commercially pure grade 2 titanium implants; osseointegration; bone; nanostructures; mesenchymal stem cell differentiation; dynamic contact angle
9.  Mechanical stiffness as an improved single-cell indicator of osteoblastic human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation 
Journal of biomechanics  2013;47(9):2197-2204.
Although it has been established that cellular stiffness can change as a stem cell differentiates, the precise relationship between cell mechanics and other phenotypic properties remains unclear. Inherent cell heterogeneity and asynchronous differentiation complicate population analysis; therefore, single-cell analysis was employed to determine how changes in cell stiffness correlate with changes in molecular biomarkers during differentiation. Design of a custom gridded tissue culture dish facilitated single-cell comparisons between cell mechanics and other differentiation biomarkers by enabling sequential measurement of cell mechanics and protein biomarker expression at the single cell level. The Young’s modulus of mesenchymal stem cells was shown not only to decrease during chemically-induced osteoblast differentiation, but also to correlate more closely with the day of differentiation than did the relative expression of the traditional osteoblast differentiation markers, bone sialoprotein and osteocalcin. Therefore, cell stiffness, a measurable property of individual cells, may serve as an improved indicator of single-cell osteoblast differentiation compared to traditional biological markers. Revelation of additional osteoblast differentiation indicators, such as cell stiffness, can improve identification and collection of starting cell populations, with applications to mesenchymal stem cell therapies and stem cell-based tissue engineering.
doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.11.017
PMCID: PMC4024369  PMID: 24296276
MSC; Atomic force microscopy; Bone sialoprotein; Cell stiffness; Osteoblast differentiation; Osteocalcin
10.  Microstructured Titanium Regulates Interleukin Production by Osteoblasts, an Effect Modulated by Exogenous BMP-2 
Acta biomaterialia  2012;9(3):5821-5829.
Microtextured implant surfaces increase osteoblast differentiation in vitro and enhance bone-to-implant contact in vivo and clinically. These implants may be used in combination with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (rhBMP-2) to enhance peri-implant bone formation. However, the effect of surface modifications alone or in combination with rhBMP-2 on osteoblast-produced inflammatory microenvironment is unknown. MG63 cells were cultured on tissue culture polystyrene or titanium substrates: smooth pretreated (PT, Ra=0.2μm), sandblasted/acid-etched (SLA, Ra=3.2μm), or hydrophilic-SLA (modSLA). Expression and protein production of pro-inflammatory interleukins (IL1b, IL6, IL8, IL17) and anti-inflammatory interleukins (IL10) were measured in cells with or without rhBMP-2. To determine which BMP signaling pathways were involved, cultures were incubated with BMP pathway inhibitors to blocking Smad (dorsomorphin), TAB/TAK1 ((5Z)-7-oxozeaenol), or PKA (H-8) signaling. Culture on rough SLA and modSLA surfaces decreased pro-inflammatory interleukins and increased anti-inflammatory IL10. This effect was negated in cells treated with rhBMP-2, which caused an increase in pro-inflammatory interleukins and a decrease in anti-inflammatory interleukins through TAB/TAK signaling. The results suggest that surface microtexture modulates the inflammatory process during osseointegration, an effect that may enhance healing. However, rhBMP-2 in combination with microtextured titanium implants can influence the effect of cells on these surfaces, and may adversely affect cells involved in osseointegration.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2012.10.030
PMCID: PMC3618455  PMID: 23123301
Microstructure; Inflammation; BMP (bone morphogenetic protein); Titanium
11.  Rapid Re-synostosis Following Suturectomy in Pediatric Mice is Age and Location Dependent 
Bone  2012;53(1):284-293.
Craniosynostosis is the premature fusion of the cranial sutures early in development. If left untreated, craniosynostosis can lead to complications resulting from cranial deformities or increased intracranial pressure. The standard treatment involves calvarial reconstruction, which in many cases undergoes rapid re-synostosis. This requires additional surgical intervention that is associated with a high incidence of life threatening complications. To better understand this rapid healing, a pediatric mouse model of re-synostosis was developed and characterized. Defects (1.5 mm by 2.5 mm) over the posterior frontal suture were created surgically in weanling (21 days post-natal) and adolescent (50 days post-natal) C57Bl/6J mice. In addition, defects were created in the frontal bone lateral to the posterior frontal suture. The regeneration of bone in the defect was assessed using advanced image processing algorithms on micro-computed tomography scans. The genes associated with defect healing were assessed by real-time PCR of mRNA isolated from the tissue present in the defect. The results showed that the weanling mouse healed in a biphasic process with bone bridging the defect by post-operative (post-op) day 3 followed by an increase in the bone volume on day 14. In adolescent mice, there was a delay in bone bridging across the defect, and no subsequent increase in bone volume. No bridging of the defect by 14 days post-op was seen in identically sized defects placed lateral to the suture in both a weanling and adolescent animals. This study demonstrates that bone regeneration in the cranium is both age and location dependent. Rapid and robust bone regeneration only occurred when the defect was created over the posterior frontal suture in immature weanling mice.
doi:10.1016/j.bone.2012.11.019
PMCID: PMC3781584  PMID: 23201269
Craniosynostosis; Cranial defect; Micro-CT; Endochondral ossification; Re-synostosis
12.  Impaired Bone Formation in Pdia3 Deficient Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112708.
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3] is crucial for normal skeletal development and bone homeostasis. Protein disulfide isomerase family A, member 3 (PDIA3) mediates 1α,25(OH)2D3 initiated-rapid membrane signaling in several cell types. To understand its role in regulating skeletal development, we generated Pdia3-deficient mice and examined the physiologic consequence of Pdia3-disruption in embryos and Pdia3+/− heterozygotes at different ages. No mice homozygous for the Pdia3-deletion were found at birth nor were there embryos after E12.5, indicating that targeted disruption of the Pdia3 gene resulted in early embryonic lethality. Pdia3-deficiency also resulted in skeletal manifestations as revealed by µCT analysis of the tibias. In comparison to wild type mice, Pdia3 heterozygous mice displayed expanded growth plates associated with decreased tether formation. Histomorphometry also showed that the hypertrophic zone in Pdia3+/− mice was more cellular than seen in wild type growth plates. Metaphyseal trabecular bone in Pdia3+/− mice exhibited an age-dependent phenotype with lower BV/TV and trabecular numbers, which was most pronounced at 15 weeks of age. Bone marrow cells from Pdia3+/− mice exhibited impaired osteoblastic differentiation, based on reduced expression of osteoblast markers and mineral deposition compared to cells from wild type animals. Collectively, our findings provide in vivo evidence that PDIA3 is essential for normal skeletal development. The fact that the Pdia3+/− heterozygous mice share a similar growth plate and bone phenotype to nVdr knockout mice, suggests that PDIA3-mediated rapid membrane signaling might be an alternative mechanism responsible for 1α,25(OH)2D3’s actions in regulating skeletal development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112708
PMCID: PMC4236091  PMID: 25405762
13.  BMP2 Induces Osteoblast Apoptosis in a Maturation State and Noggin-dependent Manner 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2012;113(10):10.1002/jcb.24201.
Large doses of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) are used clinically to induce bone formation in challenging bone defects. However, complications after treatment include swelling, ectopic bone formation, and adjacent bone resorption. While BMP2 can be effective, it is important to characterize the mechanism of the deleterious effects to optimize its use. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of BMP2 on apoptosis in osteoblast lineage cells and to determine the role of the BMP inhibitor Noggin in this process. Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), immature osteoblast-like MG63 cells, and mature normal human osteoblasts (NHOst) were treated with BMP2. A model system of increased endogenous BMP signaling was created by silencing Noggin (shNOG-MG63). Finally, the BMP pathway regulating apoptosis in NHOst was examined using BMP signaling inhibitors (5Z-7-oxozeaenol, dorsomorphin, H-8). Apoptosis was characterized by caspase-3, BAX/BCL2, p53, and DNA fragmentation. BMP2 induced apoptosis in a cell-type dependent manner. While the effect was minor in MSCs, MG63 cells had modest increases and NHOst cells had robust increases apoptosis after BMP2 treatment. Apoptosis was significantly higher in shNOG-MG63 than MG63 cells. 5Z-7-oxozeaenol and dorsomorphin eliminated the BMP2-induced increase in DNA fragmentation in NHOst, suggesting roles for TAB/TAK1 and Smad signaling. These results indicate that the apoptotic effect of BMP2 is dependent on cell maturation state, inducing apoptosis in committed osteoblasts through Smad and TAB/TAK1 signaling, and is regulated by Noggin. Dose and delivery must be optimized in therapeutic applications of BMP2 to minimize complications.
doi:10.1002/jcb.24201
PMCID: PMC3852427  PMID: 22628200
Human osteoblasts; BMP (bone morphogenetic protein); Apoptosis; Noggin silencing; Human mesenchymal stem cells
14.  Differential Responses of Osteoblast Lineage Cells to Nanotopographically-Modified, Microroughened Titanium-Aluminum-Vanadium Alloy Surfaces 
Biomaterials  2012;33(35):8986-8994.
Surface structural modifications at the micrometer and nanometer scales have driven improved success rates of dental and orthopaedic implants by mimicking the hierarchical structure of bone. However, how initial osteoblast-lineage cells populating an implant surface respond to different hierarchical surface topographical cues remains to be elucidated, with bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or immature osteoblasts as possible initial colonizers. Here we show that in the absence of any exogenous soluble factors, osteoblastic maturation of primary human osteoblasts (HOBs) but not osteoblastic differentiation of MSCs is strongly influenced by nanostructures superimposed onto a microrough Ti6Al4V (TiAlV) alloy. The sensitivity of osteoblasts to both surface microroughness and nanostructures led to a synergistic effect on maturation and local factor production. Osteoblastic differentiation of MSCs was sensitive to TiAlV surface microroughness with respect to production of differentiation markers, but no further enhancement was found when cultured on micro/nanostructured surfaces. Superposition of nanostructures to microroughened surfaces affected final MSC numbers and enhanced production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) but the magnitude of the response was lower than for HOB cultures. Our results suggest that the differentiation state of osteoblast-lineage cells determines the recognition of surface nanostructures and subsequent cell response, which has implications for clinical evaluation of new implant surface nanomodifications.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.08.059
PMCID: PMC3618458  PMID: 22989383
(4 to 6) metallic implants; osteointegration; titanium aluminum vanadium alloy; bone; nanostructures; osteoblast differentiation
15.  Osteoblast Maturation and New Bone Formation in Response to Titanium Implant Surface Features are Reduced with Age 
The surface properties of materials contribute to host cellular response and play a significant role in determining the overall success or failure of an implanted biomaterial. Rough titanium (Ti) surface microtopography and high surface free energy have been shown to enhance osteoblast maturation in vitro and increase bone formation in vivo. While the surface properties of Ti are known to affect osteoblast response, host bone quality also plays a significant role in determining successful osseointegration. One factor affecting host bone quality is patient age. We examined both in vitro and in vivo whether response to Ti surface features was affected by animal age. Calvarial osteoblasts isolated from 1-, 3-, and 11-month-old rats all displayed a reduction in cell number and increases in alkaline phosphatase specific activity and osteocalcin in response to increasing Ti surface microtopography and surface energy. Further, osteoblasts from the three ages examined displayed increased production of osteocalcin and local factors osteoprotegerin, VEGF-A, and active TGF-β1 in response to increasing Ti surface roughness and surface energy. Latent TGF-β1 only increased in cultures of osteoblasts from 1- and 3-month-old rats. Treatment with the systemic osteotropic hormone 1α,25(OH)2D3 further enhanced the response of osteoblasts to Ti surface features for all three age groups. However, osteoblasts derived from 11-month-old animals had a reduced response to 1α,25(OH)2D3 as compared to osteoblasts derived from 1-or 3-month-old animals. These results were confirmed in vivo. Ti implants placed in the femoral intramedullary canal of old (9-month) mice yielded lower bone-to-implant contract and neovascularization in response to Ti surface roughness and energy compared to younger (2-month) mice. These results show that rodent osteoblast maturation in vitro as well as new bone formation in vivo is reduced with age. Whether comparable age differences exist in humans needs to be determined.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.1628
PMCID: PMC3835587  PMID: 22492532
16.  Osteoblast Lineage Cells Can Discriminate Microscale Topographic Features on Titanium–Aluminum–Vanadium Surfaces 
Annals of Biomedical Engineering  2014;42(12):2551-2561.
Titanium (Ti) and Ti alloys are used in orthopaedic/spine applications where biological implant fixation, or osseointegration, is required for long-term stability. These implants employ macro-scale features to provide mechanical stability until arthrodesis, features that are too large to influence healing at the cellular level. Micron-scale rough Ti alloy (Ti–6Al–4V) increases osteoblastic differentiation and osteogenic factor production in vitro and increases in vivo bone formation; however, effects of overall topography, including sub-micron scale and nanoscale features, on osteoblast lineage cells are less well appreciated. To address this, Ti6Al4V surfaces with macro/micro/nano-textures were generated using sand blasting and acid etching that had comparable average roughness values but differed in other roughness parameters (total roughness, profile roughness, maximum peak height, maximum valley depth, root-mean-squared roughness, kurtosis, skewness) (#5, #9, and #12). Human mesenchymal stem cells (HMSCs) and normal human osteoblasts (NHOst) were cultured for 7 days on the substrates and then analyzed for alkaline phosphatase activity and osteocalcin content, production of osteogenic local factors, and integrin subunit expression. All three surfaces supported osteoblastic differentiation of HMSCs and further maturation of NHOst cells, but the greatest response was seen on the #9 substrate, which had the lowest skewness and kurtosis. The #9 surface also induced highest expression of α2 and β1 integrin mRNA. HMSCs produced highest levels of ITGAV on #9, suggesting this integrin may play a role for early lineage cells. These results indicate that osteoblast lineage cells are sensitive to specific micro/nanostructures, even when overall macro roughness is comparable and suggest that skewness and kurtosis are important variables.
doi:10.1007/s10439-014-1108-3
PMCID: PMC4239824  PMID: 25227453
Human mesenchymal stem cells; Osteoblast differentiation; Titanium alloy
17.  Osteogenic Differentiation of Stem Cells Alters Vitamin D Receptor Expression 
Stem Cells and Development  2011;21(10):1726-1735.
Pluripotent and multipotent stem cells adopt an osteoblastic phenotype when cultured in environments that enhance their osteogenic potential. Embryonic stem cells differentiated as embryoid bodies (EBs) in osteogenic medium containing β-glycerophosphate exhibit increased expression of bone markers, indicating that cells are osteoblastic. Interestingly, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitaminD3 (1,25D) enhances the osteogenic phenotype not just in EBs but also in multipotent adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). 1,25D acts on osteoblasts via classical vitamin D receptors (VDR) and via a membrane 1,25D-binding protein [protein disulfide isomerase family A, member 3 (PDIA3)], which activates protein kinase C -signaling. The aims of this study were to determine whether these receptors are regulated during osteogenic differentiation of stem cells and if stem cells and differentiated progeny are responsive to 1,25D. mRNA and protein levels for VDR, PDIA3, and osteoblast-associated proteins were measured in undifferentiated cells and in cells treated with osteogenic medium. Mouse EBs expressed both VDR and PDIA3, but VDR increased as cells underwent osteogenic differentiation. Human MSCs expressed Pdia3 at constant levels throughout differentiation, but VDR increased in cells treated with osteogenic medium. These results suggest that both 1,25D signaling mechanisms are important, with PDIA3 playing a greater role during early events and VDR playing a greater role in later stages of differentiation. Understanding these coordinated events provide a powerful tool to control pluripotent and multipotent stem cell differentiation through induction medium.
doi:10.1089/scd.2011.0411
PMCID: PMC3376455  PMID: 22034957
18.  Characterization of Distinct Classes of Differential Gene Expression in Osteoblast Cultures from Non-Syndromic Craniosynostosis Bone 
Journal of Genomics  2014;2:121-130.
Craniosynostosis, the premature fusion of one or more skull sutures, occurs in approximately 1 in 2500 infants, with the majority of cases non-syndromic and of unknown etiology. Two common reasons proposed for premature suture fusion are abnormal compression forces on the skull and rare genetic abnormalities. Our goal was to evaluate whether different sub-classes of disease can be identified based on total gene expression profiles. RNA-Seq data were obtained from 31 human osteoblast cultures derived from bone biopsy samples collected between 2009 and 2011, representing 23 craniosynostosis fusions and 8 normal cranial bones or long bones. No differentiation between regions of the skull was detected, but variance component analysis of gene expression patterns nevertheless supports transcriptome-based classification of craniosynostosis. Cluster analysis showed 4 distinct groups of samples; 1 predominantly normal and 3 craniosynostosis subtypes. Similar constellations of sub-types were also observed upon re-analysis of a similar dataset of 199 calvarial osteoblast cultures. Annotation of gene function of differentially expressed transcripts strongly implicates physiological differences with respect to cell cycle and cell death, stromal cell differentiation, extracellular matrix (ECM) components, and ribosomal activity. Based on these results, we propose non-syndromic craniosynostosis cases can be classified by differences in their gene expression patterns and that these may provide targets for future clinical intervention.
doi:10.7150/jgen.8833
PMCID: PMC4150121  PMID: 25184005
Non-syndromic craniosynostosis; RNA-Seq; Transcriptome profile; Personalized medicine; Biomarkers.
19.  Effects of Structural Properties of Electrospun TiO2 Nano-fiber Meshes on their Osteogenic Potential 
Acta Biomaterialia  2011;8(2):878-885.
Ideal outcomes in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine involve biomaterials that can enhance cell differentiation and production of local factors for natural tissue regeneration without the use of systemic drugs. Biomaterials typically used in tissue engineering applications include polymeric scaffolds that mimic the 3-D structural environment of the native tissue, but these are often functionalized with proteins or small peptides to improve their biological performance. For bone applications, titanium (Ti) implants, or more appropriately the titania (TiO2) passive oxide layer formed on their surface, have been shown to enhance osteoblast differentiation in vitro and to promote osseointegration in vivo. In this study we evaluated the effect on osteoblast differentiation of pure TiO2 nano-fiber meshes with different surface micro-roughness and nano-fiber diameters, prepared by the electrospinning method. MG63 cells were seeded on TiO2 meshes, and cell number, differentiation markers and local factor production were analyzed. The results showed that cells grew throughout the entire surfaces and with similar morphology in all groups. Cell number was sensitive to surface micro-roughness, whereas cell differentiation and local factor production was regulated by both surface roughness and nano-fiber diameter. These results indicate that scaffold structural cues alone can be used to drive cell differentiation and create an osteogenic environment without the use of exogenous factors.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2011.10.023
PMCID: PMC3309709  PMID: 22075122
nano structures; electrospinning; scaffold; titanium implant; tissue engineering; bone
20.  Mediation of Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Titanium Surfaces by a Wnt-Integrin Feedback Loop 
Biomaterials  2011;32(27):6399-6411.
Peri-implant bone formation depends on the ability of mesenchymal cells to colonize the implant surface and differentiate into osteoblasts. Human mesenchymal stem cells (HMSCs) undergo osteoblastic differentiation on microstructured titanium (Ti) surfaces in the absence of exogenous factors, but the mechanisms are unknown. Wnt proteins are associated with an osteoblast phenotype, but how Wnt signaling regulates HMSC differentiation on microstructured Ti surfaces is not known. HMSCs were cultured on tissue culture polystyrene or Ti (PT [Sa=0.33μm, θ=96°], SLA [Sa=2.5μm, θ=132°], modSLA [hydrophilic-SLA]). Expression of calcium-dependent Wnt ligand WNT5A increased and canonical Wnt pathway ligands decreased on microstructured Ti in a time-dependent manner. Treatment of HMSCs with canonical ligand Wnt3a preserved the mesenchymal phenotype on smooth surfaces. Treatment with Wnt5a increased osteoblastic differentiation. Expression of integrins ITGA1, ITGA2, and ITGAV increased over time and correlated with increased WNT5A expression. Treatment of HMSCs with Wnt5a, but not Wnt3a, increased integrin expression. Regulation of integrin expression due to surface roughness and energy was ablated in WNT5A-knockdown HMSCs. This indicates that surface properties regulate stem cell fate and induce osteoblast differentiation via the Wnt calcium-dependent pathway. Wnt5a enhances osteogenesis through a positive feedback with integrins and local factor regulation, particularly though BMP signaling.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.05.036
PMCID: PMC3350791  PMID: 21636130
Cell signaling; Surface roughness; Titanium; Stem cell; Growth factors
21.  Electrical Polarization of Titanium Surfaces for the Enhancement of Osteoblast Differentiation 
Bioelectromagnetics  2013;34(8):599-612.
Electrical stimulation has been used clinically to promote bone regeneration in cases of fractures with delayed union or nonunion, with several in vitro and in vivo reports suggesting its beneficial effects on bone formation. However, the use of electrical stimulation of titanium (Ti) implants to enhance osseointegration is less understood, in part because of the few in vitro models that attempt to represent the in vivo environment. In this article, the design of a new in vitro system that allows direct electrical stimulation of osteoblasts through their Ti substrates without the flow of exogenous currents through the media is presented, and the effect of applied electrical polarization on osteoblast differentiation and local factor production was evaluated. A custom-made polycarbonate tissue culture plate was designed to allow electrical connections directly underneath Ti disks placed inside the wells, which were supplied with electrical polarization ranging from 100 to 500 mV to stimulate MG63 osteoblasts. Our results show that electrical polarization applied directly through Ti substrates on which the cells are growing in the absence of applied electrical currents may increase osteoblast differentiation and local factor production in a voltage-dependent manner.
doi:10.1002/bem.21810
PMCID: PMC4009505  PMID: 23996899
electrical stimulation; current; osseointegration of metal implants; bone; Ti surface properties; polarization
22.  Use of Molecular Beacons to Image Effects of Titanium Surface Microstructure on β1 Integrin Expression in Live Osteoblast-like Cells 
Biomaterials  2010;31(30):7640-7647.
This study used molecular beacon technology to examine substrate-dependent changes in integrin subunit expression in living cells. Molecular beacons are oligonucleotide probes that can be delivered into live cells to allow for real-time imaging of mRNA. They have a stem-loop hairpin structure with a fluorophore-quencher pair, which opens when bound to the target mRNA sequence, resulting in a fluorescent signal upon excitation. A novel molecular beacon that is specific to the β1 integrin subunit mRNA was developed and used to image osteoblast-like MG63 cells in vitro on both glass and titanium surfaces of varying roughness. Specificity was verified by comparing the molecular beacon signal intensities to real-time PCR results in both wild-type cells and cells with shRNA knockdown of β1 integrin mRNA. The molecular beacon was able to detect changes due to both surface microtopography and silencing of the mRNA target. The results showed that effects of the substrate on β1 mRNA noted previously in confluent cultures were evident in pre-confluent cells as well, supporting the hypothesis that β1 integrin pairs are important in proliferation as well as differentiation of osteoblasts. This technique overcomes the limitations of traditional gene assays (PCR, immunofluorescence) by allowing for the real-time measurement and tracking of specific mRNAs in individual live cells prior to confluence.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.07.009
PMCID: PMC3350792  PMID: 20674005
Gene expression; Molecular imaging; Osteoblast; Titanium; Integrin
23.  The effects of combined micron-/submicron-scale surface roughness and nanoscale features on cell proliferation and differentiation 
Biomaterials  2011;32(13):3395-3403.
Titanium (Ti) osseointegration is critical for the success of dental and orthopaedic implants. Previous studies have shown that surface roughness at the micro- and submicro-scales promotes osseointegration by enhancing osteoblast differentiation and local factor production. Only relatively recently have the effects of nanoscale roughness on cell response been considered. The aim of the present study was to develop a simple and scalable surface modification treatment that introduces nanoscale features to the surfaces of Ti substrates without greatly affecting other surface features, and to determine the effects of such superimposed nano-features on the differentiation and local factor production of osteoblasts. A simple oxidation treatment was developed for generating controlled nanoscale topographies on Ti surfaces, while retaining the starting micro-/submicro-scale roughness. Such nano-modified surfaces also possessed similar elemental compositions, and exhibited similar contact angles, as the original surfaces, but possessed a different surface crystal structure. MG63 cells were seeded on machined (PT), nano-modified PT (NMPT), sandblasted/acid-etched (SLA), and nano-modified SLA (NMSLA) Ti disks. The results suggested that the introduction of such nanoscale structures in combination with micro-/submicro-scale roughness improves osteoblast differentiation and local factor production, which, in turn, indicates the potential for improved implant osseointegration in vivo.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.01.029
PMCID: PMC3350795  PMID: 21310480
(4 to 6) nanotopography; titanium oxide; surface roughness; titanium; bone; implant; osteoblasts
24.  Dendritic Cell Responses to Surface Properties of Clinical Titanium Surfaces 
Acta biomaterialia  2010;7(3):1354-1363.
Dendritic cells (DCs) play pivotal roles in responding to foreign entities during an innate immune response and initiating effective adaptive immunity as well as maintaining immune tolerance. The sensitivity of DCs to foreign stimuli also makes them useful cells to assess the inflammatory response to biomaterials. Elucidating the material property-DC phenotype relationships using a well-defined biomaterial system is expected to provide criteria for immuno-modulatory biomaterial design. Clinical titanium (Ti) substrates, including pretreatment (PT), sand-blasted and acid-etched (SLA), and modified SLA (modSLA), with different roughness and surface energy were used to treat DCs and resulted in differential DC responses. PT and SLA induced a mature DC (mDC) phenotype, while modSLA promoted a non-inflammatory environment by supporting an immature DC (iDC) phenotype based on surface marker expression, cytokine production profiles and cell morphology. Principal component analysis (PCA) confirmed these experimental results, and it also indicated that the non-stimulating property of modSLA covaried with certain surface properties, such as high surface hydrophilicity, % oxygen and % Ti of the substrates. In addition to the previous research that demonstrated the superior osteogenic property of modSLA compared to PT and SLA, the result reported herein indicates that modSLA may further benefit implant osteo-integration by reducing local inflammation and its associated osteoclastogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2010.10.020
PMCID: PMC3031747  PMID: 20977948
dendritic cells; titanium; immune response; inflammation
25.  The Dependence of MG63 Osteoblast Responses to (Meth)Acrylate-based Networks on Chemical Structure and Stiffness 
Biomaterials  2010;31(24):6131-6141.
The cell response to an implant is regulated by the implant’s surface properties including topography and chemistry, but less in known about how the mechanical properties affect cell behavior. The objective of this study was to evaluate how the surface stiffness and chemistry of acrylate-based copolymer networks affect the in vitro response of human MG63 pre-osteoblast cells. Networks comprised of poly(ethylene gycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA; Mn~750) and diethylene glycol dimethacrylate (DEGDMA) were photopolymerized at different concentrations to produce three compositions with moduli ranging from 850 to 60MPa. To further decouple chemistry and stiffness, three networks comprised of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (2HEMA) and PEGDMA or DEGDMA were also designed that exhibited a range of moduli similar to the PEGDMA-DEGDMA networks. MG63 cells were cultured on each surface and tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS), and the effect of copolymer composition on cell number, osteogenic markers (alkaline phosphatase specific activity and osteocalcin), and local growth factor production (OPG, TGF-β1, and VEGF-A) was assessed. Cells exhibited a more differentiated phenotype on the PEGDMA-DEGDMA copolymers compared to the 2HEMA-PEGDMA copolymers. On the PEGDMA-DEGDMA system, cells exhibited a more differentiated phenotype on the stiffest surface indicated by elevated osteocalcin compared with TCPS. Conversely, cells on 2HEMA-PEGDMA copolymers became more differentiated on the less stiff 2HEMA surface. Growth factors were regulated in a differential manner. These results indicate that copolymer chemistry is the primary regulator of osteoblast differentiation, and the effect of stiffness is secondary to the surface chemistry.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.04.033
PMCID: PMC2896827  PMID: 20510445
Surface Stiffness; Osteoblasts; Hydroxyethyl methacrylate; Polyethylene glycol dimethacrylate; In vitro; mineralized and demineralized bone

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