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Effects of dexamethasone, ascorbic acid and β-glycerophosphate on the osteogenic differentiation of stem cells in vitro

Fabian Langenbach* and Jörg Handschel

Author Affiliations

Cranio and Maxillofacial Surgery, Heinrich-Heine University, Moorenstr. 5, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany

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Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013, 4:117  doi:10.1186/scrt328

Published: 30 September 2013


The standard procedure for the osteogenic differentiation of multipotent stem cells is treatment of a confluent monolayer with a cocktail of dexamethasone (Dex), ascorbic acid (Asc) and β-glycerophosphate (β-Gly). This review describes the effects of these substances on intracellular signaling cascades that lead to osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow stroma-derived stem cells. We conclude that Dex induces Runx2 expression by FHL2/β-catenin-mediated transcriptional activation and that Dex enhances Runx2 activity by upregulation of TAZ and MKP1. Asc leads to the increased secretion of collagen type I (Col1), which in turn leads to increased Col1/α2β1 integrin-mediated intracellular signaling. The phosphate from β-Gly serves as a source for the phosphate in hydroxylapatite and in addition influences intracellular signaling molecules. In this context we give special attention to the differences between dystrophic and bone-specific mineralization.