Lactoferricin enhances BMP7-stimulated anabolic pathways in intervertebral disc cells

Gene. 2013 Jul 25;524(2):282-91. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2013.04.003. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


Bone-morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP7) is a well-known anabolic and anti-catabolic growth factor on intervertebral disc (IVD) matrix and cell homeostasis. Similarly, Lactoferricin B (LfcinB) has recently been shown to have pro-anabolic, anti-catabolic, anti-oxidative and/or anti-inflammatory effects in bovine disc cells in vitro. In this study, we investigated the potential benefits of using combined peptide therapy with LfcinB and BMP7 for intervertebral disc matrix repair and to understand cellular and signaling mechanisms controlled by these factors. We studied the effects of BMP7 and LfcinB as individual treatments and combined therapy on bovine nucleus pulposus (NP) cells by assessing proteoglycan (PG) accumulation and synthesis, and the gene expression of matrix protein aggrecan and transcription factor SOX-9. We also analyzed the role of Noggin, a BMP antagonist, in IVD tissue and examined its effect after stimulation with LfcinB. To understand the molecular mechanisms by which LfcinB synergizes with BMP7, we investigated the ERK-SP1 axis as a downstream intracellular signaling regulator involved in BMP7 and LfcinB-mediated activities. Treatment of bovine NP cells cultured in alginate with LfcinB plus BMP7 synergistically stimulates PG synthesis and accumulation in part by upregulation of aggrecan gene expression. The synergism results from LfcinB-mediated activation of Sp1 and SMAD signaling pathways by (i) phosphorylation of SMAD 1/5/8; (ii) downregulation of SMAD inhibitory factors [i.e., noggin and SMAD6 (inhibitory SMAD)]; and (iii) upregulation of SMAD4 (universal co-SMAD). These data indicate that LfcinB-suppression of Noggin may eliminate the negative feedback of BMP7, thereby maximizing biological activity of BMP7 and ultimately shifting homeostasis to a pro-anabolic state in disc cells. We propose that combination growth factor therapy using BMP7 and LfcinB may be beneficial for treatment of disc degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggrecans / genetics
  • Aggrecans / metabolism
  • Alginates / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7 / pharmacology*
  • Carrier Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Count
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen Type II / metabolism
  • Drug Synergism
  • Glucuronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Hexuronic Acids / pharmacology
  • Homeostasis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Intervertebral Disc / drug effects*
  • Intervertebral Disc / metabolism
  • Lactoferrin / pharmacology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Smad6 Protein / metabolism


  • Aggrecans
  • Alginates
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Collagen Type II
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • Proteoglycans
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor
  • Smad6 Protein
  • lactoferricin B
  • noggin protein
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • Lactoferrin