Periosteally derived osteoblast-like cells differentiate into chondrocytes in suspension culture in agarose

Safarali Bahrami, Udo Stratmann, Hans-Peter Wiesmann, Kai Mokrys, Peter Bruckner, Thomas Szuwart
Institut für Physiologische Chemie and Pathobiochemie, Universität Münster, Münster D-48149, Germany
Institut für Anatomie, Universität Münster, Münster D-48149, Germany
Institut für Medizinische Physik und Biophysik, Universität Münster, Münster D-48149, Germany
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Grant Number: Br1497/1-2.3

Pluripotent cells from the periosteal layer adjacent to cortical bone attain an osteoblast-like phenotype in culture when reaching confluence in monolayer. It is unknown whether such newly differentiated osteoblast-like cells preserve the chondrogenic potential characteristics for stem cells derived from the periosteum. Primary osteoprogenitor cells derived from bovine metacarpal periosteum were differentiated into alkaline phosphatase-positive osteoblast-like cells by an established monolayer culture protocol. After transfer into suspension culture in agarose gels, the cells differentiated into chondrocytes demonstrated by the production of collagen II, but not of collagen I, as well as alkaline phosphatase activity was abated. Contrarily, with continuation of monolayer culture, the cells maintained their osteoblast-like phenotype and secreted large amounts of collagen I and a minor quantity of collagen III and V. The alkaline phosphatase activity steadily increased during the entire culture period of 2 weeks. Thus, our culture techniques can serve as useful tools to study mechanisms of differentiation by modulating the phenotypic potential of osteogenic cells. The results presented here support the notion that the extracellular environment strongly influences the cell type and its metabolism. Anat Rec 259:124-130, 2000. © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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