Journal article

Fetal bone cells for tissue engineering

We envision the use of human fetal bone cells for engineered regeneration of adult skeletal tissue. A description of their cellular function is then necessary. To our knowledge, there is no description of human primary fetal bone cells treated with differentiation factors. The characterization of fetal bone cells is particularly important as the pattern of secreted proteins from osteoblasts has been shown to change during aging. In the first part of this work, human primary fetal bone cells were compared to adult bone cells and mesenchymal stem cells for their ability to proliferate and to differentiate into osteoblasts in vitro. Cell proliferation, gene expression of bone markers, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, and mineralization were analyzed during a time-course study. In the second part of this paper, bone fetal cells behavior exposed to osteogenic factors is further detailed. The doubling time of fetal bone cells was comparable to mesenchymal stem cells but significantly shorter than for adult bone cells. Gene expression of cbfa-1, ALP, alpha1 chain of type I collagen, and osteocalcin were upregulated in fetal bone cells after 12 days of treatment, with higher inductions than for adult and mesenchymal stem cells. The increase of ALP enzymatic activity was stronger for fetal than for adult bone cells reaching a maximum at day 10, but lower than for mesenchymal stem cells. Importantly, the mineralization process of bone fetal cells started earlier than adult bone and mesenchymal stem cells. Proliferation of fetal and adult bone cells was increased by dexamethasone, whereas 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 did not show any proliferative effect. Mineralization studies clearly demonstrated the presence of calcium deposits in the extracellular matrix of fetal bone cells. Nodule formation and calcification were strongly increased by the differentiation treatment, especially by dexamethasone. This study shows for the first time that human primary fetal bone cells could be of great interest for bone research, due to their fast growth rate and their ability to differentiate into mature osteoblasts. They represent an interesting and promising potential for therapeutic use in bone tissue engineering.

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