Osteogenic differentiation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells is enhanced by an aragonite scaffold

Differentiation. 2019 May-Jun:107:24-34. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2019.05.002. Epub 2019 May 22.


Bone graft substitutes and bone void fillers are predominantly used to treat bone defects and bone fusion in orthopaedic surgery. Some aragonite-based scaffolds of coralline exoskeleton origin exhibit osteoconductive properties and are described as useful bone repair scaffolds. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the in vitro osteogenic potential of the bone phase of a novel aragonite-based bi-phasic osteochondral scaffold (Agili-C™, CartiHeal Ltd.) using adult human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Analyses were performed at several time intervals: 3, 7, 14, 21, 28 and 42 days post-seeding. Osteogenic differentiation was assessed by morphological characterisation using light microscopy after Alizarin red and von Kossa staining, and scanning electron microscopy. The transcript levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), bone gamma-carboxyglutamate (BGLAP), osteonectin (SPARC) and osteopontin (SPP1) were determined by quantitative PCR. Proliferation was assessed by a thymidine incorporation assay and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) immunocytochemistry. Our results demonstrate that the bone phase of the bi-phasic aragonite-based scaffold supports osteogenic differentiation and enhanced proliferation of bone marrow-derived MSCs at both the molecular and histological levels. The scaffold was colonized by differentiating MSCs, suggesting its suitability for incorporation into bone voids to accelerate bone healing, remodelling and regeneration. The mechanism of osteogenic differentiation involves scaffold surface modification with de novo production of calcium phosphate deposits, as revealed by energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analyses. This novel coral-based scaffold may promote the rapid formation of high quality bone during the repair of osteochondral lesions.

Keywords: Agili-C; Aragonite-based implant; Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell; Coralline scaffold; Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy; Osteogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Substitutes / chemistry
  • Calcium Carbonate* / chemistry
  • Calcium Phosphates / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Osteogenesis*
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tissue Scaffolds*


  • Bone Substitutes
  • Calcium Phosphates
  • calcium phosphate
  • Calcium Carbonate