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1.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  Osteoblasts exhibit a more differentiated phenotype and increased bone morphogenetic protein production on titanium alloy substrates than on poly-ether-ether-ketone 
Background Context
Multiple biomaterials are clinically available to spine surgeons for performing interbody fusion. Poly-ether-ether-ketone (PEEK) is used frequently for lumbar spine interbody fusion, but alternative materials are also used, including titanium (Ti) alloys. Previously, we showed that osteoblasts exhibit a more differentiated phenotype when grown on machined or grit-blasted titanium aluminum vanadium (Ti6Al4V) alloys with micron-scale roughened surfaces than when grown on smoother Ti6Al4V surfaces or on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS). We hypothesized that osteoblasts cultured on rough Ti alloy substrates would present a more mature osteoblast phenotype than cells cultured on PEEK, suggesting that textured Ti6Al4V implants may provide a more osteogenic surface for interbody fusion devices.
Purpose
The aim of the present study was to compare osteoblast response to smooth Ti6Al4V (sTiAlV) and roughened Ti6Al4V (rTiAlV) with their response to PEEK with respect to differentiation and production of factors associated with osteogenesis.
Study Design
This in vitro study compared the phenotype of human MG63 osteoblast-like cells cultured on PEEK, sTiAlV, or rTiAlV surfaces and their production of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs).
Methods
Surface properties of PEEK, sTiAlV, and rTiAlV discs were determined. Human MG63 cells were grown on TCPS and the discs. Confluent cultures were harvested, and cell number, alkaline phosphatase–specific activity, and osteocalcin were measured as indicators of osteoblast maturation. Expression of messenger RNA (mRNA) for BMP2 and BMP4 was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Levels of BMP2, BMP4, and BMP7 proteins were also measured in the conditioned media of the cell cultures.
Results
Although roughness measurements for sTiAlV (Sa=0.09±0.01), PEEK (Sa=0.43±0.07), and rTiAlV (Sa= 1.81±0.51) varied, substrates had similar contact angles, indicating comparable wettability. Cell morphology differed depending on the surface. Cells cultured on Ti6Al4V had lower cell number and increased alkaline phosphatase specific activity, osteocalcin, BMP2, BMP4, and BMP7 levels in comparison to PEEK. In particular, roughness significantly increased the mRNA levels of BMP2 and BMP4 and secreted levels of BMP4.
Conclusions
These data demonstrate that rTiAlV substrates increase osteoblast maturation and produce an osteogenic environment that contains BMP2, BMP4, and BMP7. The results show that modifying surface structure is sufficient to create an osteogenic environment without addition of exogenous factors, which may induce better and faster bone during interbody fusion.
doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2012.02.002
PMCID: PMC3618467  PMID: 22424980
Ti6Al4V; PEEK; Osteoblast; BMP; Roughness
9.  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
10.  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
11.  Sex dependent regulation of osteoblast response to implant surface properties by systemic hormones 
Background
Osseointegration depends on the implant surface, bone quality and the local and systemic host environment, which can differ in male and female patients. This study was undertaken in order to determine if male and female cells respond differently to titanium surfaces that have micron-scale roughness and if interactions of calciotropic hormones [1α,25(OH)2D3 and 17β-oestradiol (E2)] and microstructured surfaces on osteoblasts are sex dependent.
Methods
Osteoblasts from 6-week old Sprague-Dawley rats were cultured on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS) or on titanium (Ti) disks with two different surface topographies, a smooth pretreated (PT) surface and a coarse grit-blasted/acid-etched (SLA) surface, and treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, E2, or E2 conjugated to bovine serum albumin (E2-BSA).
Results
Male and female cells responded similarly to Ti microstructure with respect to cell number and levels of osteocalcin, transforming growth factor-β1, osteoprotegerin and prostaglandin E2 in their conditioned media, exhibiting a more differentiated phenotype on SLA than on PT or TCPS. E2 and E2-BSA increased differentiation and local factor production, an effect that was microstructure dependent and found only in female osteoblasts. 1α,25(OH)2D3 increased osteoblast differentiation and local factor production in female and male cells, but the effect was more robust in male cells.
Conclusions
Male and female rat osteoblasts respond similarly to surface microstructure but exhibit sexual dimorphism in substrate-dependent responses to systemic hormones. Oestrogen affected only female cells while 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a greater effect on male cells. These results suggest that successful osseointegration in males and females may depend on the implant surface design and correct levels of calciotropic hormones.
doi:10.1186/2042-6410-1-4
PMCID: PMC3010104  PMID: 21208469

Results 1-11 (11)