The role of non-calcemic analogs of vitamin D in differentiation of cultured rat bone marrow into osteoblast-like cells: Age and sex differences

D. Somjen*, A. M. Kaye, M. Ofer, I. Bleiberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously demonstrated that rat bone in vivo and rat bone cells in vitro, responded sex-specifically to gonadal steroids in stimulation of the specific activity of the BB isozyme of creatine kinase (CK), a marker for hormonal responsiveness. Pre-treatment with vitamin D analogs up-regulated the sex-specific responsiveness and sensitivity to gonadal steroids. We also found that mice cultured femoral bone marrow (BM) in the presence of dexamethasone (DEX) and 1,25(OH)2D3 (1,25D) or both differentiated into osteoblast-like cells (Obs), which acquired sex-specific responsiveness to gonadal steroids. This response was significantly augmented in the presence of both agents. In the present study, we examined the effect of age, sex and vitamin D non-hypercalcemic analogs on the differentiation of rat derived femoral BM into Obs. In female or male derived BM from intact but not gonadectomized rats DEX and DEX+1, 25D increased the constitutive levels of CK. BM derived from old females showed lower stimulation of CK than BM originated from young females by estradiol (E2) or raloxifene (Ral) in the presence of both DEX and 1,25D. The non-hypercalcemic analogs of vitamin D: CB 1093 (CB), EB 1089 (EB) and MC 1288 (MC) were more effective than 1,25D in both age groups in stimulating CK in the absence of DEX. In the presence of DEX, there was a further increase in CK with the same differential effectiveness. BM from gonadectomized male or female rats lost the sex-specific response, responding to both E2 and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). BM derived from both intact and gonadectomized males and females, growing with DEX or DEX+1,25D showed increased specific activity of constitutive levels of alkaline phodphatase (AP). No significant stimulation of AP was seen in any BM by gonadal steroids. These findings suggest that manipulation of the hormonal milieu in early stages of differentiation sequence of Obs determines the subsequent selective responsiveness of the developing bone tissue to sex steroids. Also non-calcemic vitamin D analogs were more effective in this process than 1,25D and showed activity even in the absence of DEX and may be applied to the differentiation process for bone tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910-918
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Androgen
  • Bone marrow
  • Creatine kinase
  • Estrogen
  • Osteoblasts
  • Vitamin D analogs


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