Bone progenitors produced by direct osteogenic differentiation of the unprocessed bone marrow demonstrate high osteogenic potential in vitro and in vivo

Irene Ginis*, Miron Weinreb, Natalie Abramov, Doron Shinar, Shoshana Merchav, Aharon Schwartz, Mitchell Shirvan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissue-engineered bone grafts seeded with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been sought as a replacement for bone grafts currently used for bone repair. For production of osteogenic constructs, MSCs are isolated from bone marrow (BM) or other tissues, expanded in culture, then trypsinized, and seeded on a scaffold. Predifferentiation of seeded cells is often desired. We describe here bone progenitor cells (BPCs) obtained by direct osteogenic differentiation of unprocessed BM bypassing isolation of MSCs. Human BM aspirates were incubated for 2 weeks with a commonly used osteogenic medium (OM), except no fetal calf serum, serum substitutes, or growth factors were added, because responding stem and/or progenitor cells were present in the BM milieu. The adherent cells remaining after the culture medium and residual BM were washed out, expressed high levels of bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (ALP) on their surface, demonstrated high ALP activity, were capable of mineralization of the intercellular space, and expressed genes associated with osteogenesis. These parameters in BPCs were similar and even at higher levels compared to MSCs subjected to osteogenic differentiation for 2 weeks. The yield of BPCs per 1mL BM was 0.71 ± 0.39× 106. In comparison, the yield of MSCs produced by adhesion of mononuclear cells derived from the same amount of BM and cultured in a commercial growth medium for 2 weeks was 0.3±0.17 ×106. When a scaffold was added to the BM-OM mixture, and the mixture was cultured in a simple rotational bioreactor; the resulting BPCs were obtained already seeded on the scaffold. BPCs seeded on scaffolds were capable of proliferation for at least 6 weeks, keeping high levels of ALP activity, expressing osteogenic genes, and mineralizing the scaffolds. Autologous rat BPCs seeded on various scaffolds were transplanted into critical-size calvarial defects. Six weeks after transplantation of polylactic acid/polyglycolic acid scaffolds, 76.1%±18.3% of the defects were filled with a new bone, compared to 37.9%±28.4% in the contralateral defects transplanted with the scaffolds without cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalBioResearch Open Access
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


  • Bioengineering
  • Bone progenitors
  • Calvaria
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Scaffold


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