Author(s): Iwamoto M, Shapiro IM, Yagami K, Boskey AL, Leboy PS,
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Numerous studies of experimental hypo- and hypervitaminosis A have long suggested that retinoic acid (RA) is involved in chondrocyte maturation during endochondral ossification and skeletogenesis. However, the specific and direct roles of RA in these complex processes remain unclear. Based on recent studies from our laboratories, we tested the hypothesis that RA induces the expression of genes associated with the terminal mineralization phase of chondrocyte maturation and promotes apatite deposition in the extracellular matrix. Cell populations containing chondrocytes at advanced stages of maturation were isolated from the upper portion of Day 18 chick embryo sterna and grown for 2 weeks in monolayer until confluent. The cells were then treated with low doses (10-100 nM) of RA for up to 6 days in the presence of a phosphate donor (beta-glycerophosphate) but in the absence of ascorbic acid. Within 4 days of treatment, RA dramatically induced expression of the alkaline phosphatase (APase), osteonectin, and osteopontin genes, caused a several-fold increase in APase activity, and provoked massive mineral formation while it left type X collagen gene expression largely unchanged. The mineral had a mean Ca/Pi molar ratio of 1.5; Fourier transform infrared spectra confirmed that it represented hydroxyapatite. Mineralization was completely abolished by treatment with parathyroid hormone; this profound effect confirmed that RA induced cell-mediated mineralization and not nonspecific precipitation. When cultures were treated with both RA and ascorbic acid, there was a slight further increase in APase activity and increased calcium accumulation. The effects of RA were also studied in cultures of immature chondrocytes isolated from the caudal portion of sternum; however, RA only had minimal effects on mineralization and gene expression in these cells. Thus, RA appears to be a rapid, potent, maturation-dependent, ascorbate-independent promoter of terminal maturation and matrix calcification in chondrocytes.
This article was published in Exp Cell Res
and referenced in Journal of Tissue Science & Engineering