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Open Access Research article

Prolonged exposure to bacterial toxins downregulated expression of toll-like receptors in mesenchymal stromal cell-derived osteoprogenitors

Irene Fung Ying Mo1, Kevin Hak Kong Yip2, Wing Keung Chan1, Helen Ka Wai Law1, Yu Lung Lau1 and Godfrey Chi Fung Chan13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PR China

2 Discipline of Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PR China

3 Associate Professor & Honorary Consultant & Assistant Dean (External Affair), Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, 102 Pokfulam Road, The University of Hong Kong, HKSAR, PR China

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BMC Cell Biology 2008, 9:52  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-9-52

Published: 18 September 2008

Abstract

Background

Human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs, also known as mesenchymal stem cells) are multipotent cells with potential therapeutic value. Owing to their osteogenic capability, MSCs may be clinically applied for facilitating osseointegration in dental implants or orthopedic repair of bony defect. However, whether wound infection or oral microflora may interfere with the growth and osteogenic differentiation of human MSCs remains unknown. This study investigated whether proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of MSCs would be affected by potent gram-positive and gram-negative derived bacterial toxins commonly found in human settings.

Results

We selected lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Escherichia coli and lipoteichoic acid (LTA) from Streptococcus pyogenes as our toxins of choice. Our findings showed both LPS and LTA did not affect MSC proliferation, but prolonged LPS challenge upregulated the osteogenic differentiation of MSCs, as assessed by alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium deposition. Because toll-like receptors (TLRs), in particularly TLR4 and TLR2, are important for the cellular responsiveness to LPS and LTA respectively, we evaluated their expression profiles serially from MSCs to osteoblasts by quantitative PCR. We found that during osteogenic differentiation, MSC-derived osteoprogenitors gradually expressed TLR2 and TLR4 by Day 12. But under prolonged incubation with LPS, MSC-derived osteoprogenitors had reduced TLR2 and TLR4 gene expression. This peculiar response to LPS suggests a possible adaptive mechanism when MSCs are subjected to continuous exposure with bacteria.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our findings support the potential of using human MSCs as a biological graft, even under a bacterial toxin-rich environment.