Hypertrophic differentiation during chondrogenic differentiation of progenitor cells is stimulated by BMP-2 but suppressed by BMP-7

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Objective: Bone morphogenic protein (BMP)-2 and BMP-7 are clinically approved and their recombinant proteins are used for bone tissue regenerative purposes and widely evaluated for cartilage regeneration. Previous comparison of the in vitro chondrogenic characteristics of BMP-2 vs BMP-7 did not address hypertrophic differentiation and characterizing their chondrogenic properties with a focus in on chondrocyte hypertrophy was topic of investigation in this study. Design: Equimolar concentrations of BMP-2 or BMP-7 were added to chondrogenic differentiating ATDC5, human bone marrow stem cells or rabbit periosteal explants. Expression of Col2a1, Sox9, Acan, Col10a1, Runx2, ALP, Mmp13, Mef2c and Bapx1/Nkx3.2 was determined by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and immunoblotting. Glycosaminoglycan content, cell proliferation capacity and ALP activity were analysed by colourimetric analyses. Expression of Bapx1/Nkx3.2 and Sox9 was targeted by transfection of target specific siRNA duplexes. Results: BMP-2 dose-dependently increased chondrocyte hypertrophy during chondrogenic differentiation of progenitor cells, whereas BMP-7 acted hypertrophy-suppressive and chondro-promotive. Both BMPs did not influence cell proliferation, but they did increase total glycosaminoglycan content. In a candidate approach Bapx1/Nkx3.2 was found to be involved in the BMP-7 mediated suppression of chondrocyte hypertrophy in ATDC5 cells. Conclusions: BMP-2 and BMP-7 display opposing actions on the chondrogenic outcome of differentiating progenitor cells: BMP-2 acts a specific inducer of chondrocyte hypertrophy, while BMP-7 appears to increase or maintain chondrogenic potential and prevent chondrocyte hypertrophy. Our results pave the way for an application-dependent differential use of BMP-2 or BMP-7.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-613
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Progenitor cells
  • Chondrogenic differentiation
  • Bone morphogenic protein 2
  • Bone morphogenic protein 7
  • Bapx1/Nkx3.2


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