The response of osteoprogenitors to calcium (Ca 2+) is of primary interest for both normal bone homeostasis and the clinical field of bone regeneration. The latter makes use of calcium phosphate-based bone void fillers to heal bone defects, but it is currently not known how Ca 2+ released from these ceramic materials influences cells in situ. Here, we have created an invitro environment with high extracellular Ca 2+ concentration and investigated the response of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) to it. Ca 2+ enhanced proliferation and morphological changes in hMSCs. Moreover, the expression of osteogenic genes is highly increased. A 3-fold up-regulation of BMP-2 is observed after only 6h and pharmaceutical interference with a number of proteins involved in Ca 2+ sensing showed that not the calcium sensing receptor, but rather type L voltage-gated calcium channels are involved in mediating the signaling pathway between extracellular Ca 2+ and BMP-2 expression. MEK1/2 activity is essential for the effect of Ca 2+ and using microarray analysis, we have identified c-Fos as an early Ca 2+ response gene. We have demonstrated that hMSC osteogenesis can be induced via extracellular Ca 2+, a simple and economic way of priming hMSCs for bone tissue engineering applications.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Barradas, A.M.C, Fernandes, H, Groen, N, Chai, Y.C, Schrooten, J, van de Peppel, J, … de Boer, J. (2012). A calcium-induced signaling cascade leading to osteogenic differentiation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells. Biomaterials, 33(11), 3205–3215. doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.01.020