Background: Hyperbaric oxygenation was shown to increase bone healing in a rabbit model. However, little is known about the regulatory factors and molecular mechanism involved.We hypothesized that the effect of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) on bone formation is mediated via increases in the osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which are regulated by Wnt signaling.
Methods: The phenotypic characterization of the MSCs was analyzed by flow cytometric analysis. To investigate the effects of HBO on Wnt signaling and osteogenic differentiation of MSCs, mRNA and protein levels of Wnt3a, beta-catenin, GSK-3beta, Runx 2, as well as alkaline phosphatase activity, calcium deposition, and the intensity of von Kossa staining were analyzed after HBO treatment. To investigate the effects of HBO on Wnt processing and secretion, the expression of Wntless and vacuolar ATPases were quantified after HBO treatment.
Results: Cells expressed MSC markers such as CD105, CD146, and STRO-1. The mRNA and protein levels of Wnt3a, β-catenin, and Runx 2 were up-regulated, while GSK-3β was down-regulated after HBO treatment. Western blot analysis showed an increased β-catenin translocation with a subsequent stimulation of the expression of target genes after HBO treatment. The above observation was confirmed by small interfering (si)RNA treatment. HBO significantly increased alkaline phosphatase activity, calcium deposition, and the intensity of von Kossa staining of osteogenically differentiated MSCs. We further showed that HBO treatment increased the expression of Wntless, a retromer trafficking protein, and vacuolar ATPases to stimulate Wnt processing and secretion, and the effect was confirmed by siRNA treatment.
Conclusions: HBO treatment increased osteogenic differentiation of MSCs via regulating Wnt processing, secretion, and signaling.