Concurrent Differentiation of Marrow Stromal Cells to Osteogenic and Vasculogenic Lineages

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When rat bone marrow stromal (BMS) cells were seeded on aligned type I collagen scaffolds and cultured in osteogenic media, they underwent simultaneous maturation and differentiation into osteogenic and vascular cell lineages. In addition, these cells produced mineralized matricellular deposits. BMS cells were seeded in Petri dish or the collagen scaffold, cultured in osteogenic media for 3, 6, and 9 d and subsequently processed for immunohistochemical and cytochemical analysis. Immunolocalization of lineage-specific proteins were visualized using confocal microscopy and mRNA transcript analysis was performed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium content significantly increased over the observed period of time in an osteogenic medium. Sheets of abundant Pecam (CD31), Flk-1 (VEGFR-2), tomato lectin (TL/LEL), and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) positive cells were observed in the collagen scaffolds. Nascent capillary-like vessels were also seen amidst the osteoblasts in osteogenic culture, augmenting the maturation and differentiation of BMS cells into osteoblasts. In our in vitro study, concurrent differentiation of BMS cells, a heterogeneous cell population with multilineage differentiation potential, to osteogenic and vascular lineages demonstrated that the substrates (three-dimensional (3-D), collagen type I, aligned fibrils) had a profound effect on guiding the differentiation pathway of BMS cells.