Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor in the Presence of Dexamethasone Stimulates Colony Formation, Expansion, and Osteoblastic Differentiation by Rat Bone Marrow Stromal Cells
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- Scutt, A. & Bertram, P. Calcif Tissue Int (1999) 64: 69. doi:10.1007/s002239900581
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Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is known to stimulate endosteal bone formation in vivo by a mechanism possibly mediated via osteoblast precursor cells present in the bone marrow. In high density cultures of primary bone marrow cells, and in the presence of glucocorticoids, bFGF stimulates the formation of a bone-like matrix; however, due to the dense nature of these cultures, the exact mechanism of action is unclear. In an adaptation of the fibroblastic colony formation unit assay, in which the bone marrow cells are grown in the presence of dexamethasone, β-glycerophosphate, and ascorbate, mineralized colonies are formed which stem from single mesenchymal precursor cells and grow in isolation from each other. Using this system we have been able to investigate the mechanism by which bFGF stimulates the formation of bone like tissue in vitro. We have shown that bFGF increases the formation of a calcified collagenous matrix in vitro by (1) increasing the total number of fibroblastic colonies formed, (2) increasing the proportion of differentiated colonies that synthesize collagen and calcify, and (3) stimulating the proliferation and collagen accumulation of the individual colonies. A maximal increase in total and differentiated colony numbers was seen after only 5 days exposure to bFGF, however, continued exposure to bFGF continued to increase the size and collagen content of the individual colonies. Bearing in mind the endosteal location of newly formed bone seen after treatment with bFGF, these processes may well play an active role in this effect.