Bone morphogenetic protein-2 restores mineralization in glucocorticoid-inhibited MC3T3-E1 osteoblast cultures

Cynthia A Luppen, Elisheva Smith, Lyudmila Spevak, Adele L Boskey, Baruch Frenkel
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2003, 18 (7): 1186-97

UNLABELLED: The anti-glucocorticoid potential of BMP-2 in osteoblasts was tested in MC3T3-E1 cells using dexamethasone (1 microM) and rhBMP-2 (10 or 100 ng/ml). rhBMP-2 restored mineralization but not condensation or collagen accumulation. These results demonstrate the potential and limitations of BMPs in counteracting glucocorticoids.

INTRODUCTION: Pharmacologic glucocorticoids (GCs) inhibit osteoblast function and induce osteoporosis. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) stimulate osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Here we tested the anti-glucocorticoid potential of BMP-2 in cultured osteoblasts.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: MC3T3-E1 cells were treated with dexamethasone (DEX; 1 microM) and/or recombinant human BMP-2 (rhBMP-2; 10 or 100 ng/ml). Culture progression was characterized by cell cycle profiling, biochemical assays for DNA, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), collagen, and calcium, and by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of osteoblast phenotypic mRNAs. Mineralization was characterized by Alizarin red and von Kossa staining and by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray diffraction (XRD).

RESULTS: DEX inhibited differentiation-related cell cycle, nodule formation, collagen accumulation, osteocalcin, and BMP-2 gene expression as well as mineralization. Replenishment of GC-inhibited cultures with 10 or 100 ng/ml rhBMP-2 dramatically rescued mineral deposition. The rhBMP-2-rescued mineral was bone-like apatite nearly identical to the mineral of control cultures. The rhBMP-2 rescue was associated with increased mRNA levels for alpha1(I) collagen, osteocalcin, and Cbfa1 types I and II, as well as ALP activity. In contrast, rhBMP-2 did not rescue the GC-inhibited differentiation-related cell cycle, nodule formation, or collagen accumulation. When administered alone, rhBMP-2 also increased the mRNA levels for alpha1(I) collagen, osteocalcin, and Cbfa1 types I and II, as well as ALP activity. However, treatment with rhBMP-2 alone inhibited cell cycle progression, nodule formation, and collagen accumulation. Surprisingly, in contrast to its rescue of mineralization in DEX-treated cultures, rhBMP-2 inhibited mineralization in the absence of DEX. In parallel to its bimodal effect on mineralization, rhBMP-2 stimulated endogenous BMP-2 mRNA in the presence of DEX, but inhibited endogenous BMP-2 mRNA in the absence of DEX.

CONCLUSIONS: Suppression of BMP-2 gene expression plays a pivotal role in GC inhibition of osteoblast differentiation. However, the inability of rhBMP-2 to rescue the entire osteoblast phenotype suggests BMP-2-independent inhibitory effects of CCs. BMP-2 exerts both positive and negative effects on osteoblasts, possibly depending on the differentiation stage and/or the existing BMP signaling.

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