Among the multiple modulatory physical cues explored to regulate cellular processes, the potential of magneto-responsive substrates in magnetic field stimulated stem cell differentiation is still unperceived. In this regard, the present work demonstrates how an external magnetic field can be applied to direct stem cell differentiation towards osteogenic commitment. A new culture methodology involving periodic delivery of 100 mT static magnetic field (SMF) in combination with HA-Fe3O4 magnetic substrates possessing a varying degree of substrate magnetization was designed for the study. The results demonstrate that an appropriate combination of weakly ferromagnetic substrates and SMF exposure enhanced cell viability, DNA synthesis and caused an early switchover to osteogenic lineage as supported by Runx2 immunocytochemistry and ALP expression. However, the mRNA expression profile of early osteogenic markers (Runx2, ALP, Col IA) was comparable despite varying substrate magnetic properties (diamagnetic to ferromagnetic). On the contrary, a remarkable upregulation of late bone development markers (OCN and OPN) was explicitly detected on weak and strongly ferromagnetic substrates. Furthermore, SMF induced matrix mineralization with elevated calcium deposition on similar substrates, even in the absence of osteogenic supplements. More specifically, the role of SMF in increasing intracellular calcium levels and in inducing cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase was elucidated as the major molecular event triggering osteogenic differentiation. Taken together, the above results demonstrate the competence of magnetic stimuli in combination with magneto-responsive biomaterials as a potential strategy for stem cell based bone tissue engineering.
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© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2015.
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