Certain cells of the periodontium are necessary for the regeneration of tissues that are destroyed as a result of periodontal disease. There has been debate regarding which cells are the primary participants in periodontal regeneration. It is a well-known fact that osteoblasts are essential in new bone formation, but controversy surrounds the role that gingival fibroblasts may play in the regeneration of the hard tissues of the periodontium. If gingival fibroblasts could contribute to the regeneration of these tissues, they might provide an additional source of progenitor cells. The bone morphogenetic proteins are potent stimulators of cell differentiation and have been shown to induce new bone formation in many experimental models. This project investigated the ability of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) to (1) enhance the production of markers of osteoblastlike cells (osteocalcin and mineralization in culture) in human osteosarcoma cells (MG63) and to (2) induce the expression of an osteoblast phenotype in cultured human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs). MG63 cells and pooled HGFs were exposed to varying concentrations of rhBMP-2 for 24, 48, and 72 hours after 9 days in culture, and osteocalcin levels were measured by enzyme immunosorbent assay in the cell supernatants. In addition, the cells were exposed to rhBMP-2 for 72 hours after 18 days in culture, and mineralization was determined by the Von Kossa stain. The rhBMP-2 had an inhibitory effect on both osteocalcin production and mineralization (p < 0.05) in MG63 cells compared with untreated controls. In addition, increasing doses of rhBMP-2 inhibited both osteocalcin and mineralization in HGF cells. These results suggest that HGFs can express an osteoblastic phenotype when exposed to rhBMP-2; however, rhBMP-2 has inhibitory effects at higher rhBMP-2 doses in both cell types and may, in fact, be inhibitory to MG63 cells.

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