Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Analysis of human alveolar osteoblast behavior on a nano-hydroxyapatite substrate: an in vitro study

Andrea Pilloni1, Giorgio Pompa2, Matteo Saccucci3*, Gabriele Di Carlo3, Lia Rimondini4, Marina Brama5, Blerina Zeza1, Francesca Wannenes5 and Silvia Migliaccio5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Science, Periodontics Unit, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

2 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Science, Prosthodontics Unit, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

3 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Science, Pediatric Dentistry Unit, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

4 Department of Health Sciences, Laboratory of Biomedical and Dental Materials, University of Oriental Piedmont “Amedeo Avogadro”, Novara, Italy

5 Medical Phatophysiology, Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit, Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

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BMC Oral Health 2014, 14:22  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-22

Published: 20 March 2014



Nano-hydroxyapatite (nHA) is a potential ideal biomaterial for bone regeneration. However, studies have yet to characterize the behavior of human osteoblasts derived from alveolar bone on nHA. Thus, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the influence of nHA on the adhesion, proliferation and differentiation of these alveolar bone-derived cells.


Primary human alveolar osteoblasts were collected from the alveolar ridge of a male periodontal patient during osseous resective surgery and grown on culture plates coated with either polylysine or polylysine with nano-hydroxyapatite (POL/nHA) composite. The cells were grown and observed for 14 days, and then assessed for potential modifications to osteoblasts homeostasis as evaluated by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (real time RT-PCR), scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy.


Real time PCR revealed a significant increase in the expression of the selected markers of osteoblast differentiation (bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2,-5,-7, ALP, COLL-1A2, OC, ON) in cells grown on the POL/nHA substrate. In addition, as compared with the POL surface, cells grown on the POL/nHA substrate demonstrated better osteoconductive properties, as demonstrated by the increase in adhesion and spreading, likely as a result of the increased surface roughness of the composite.


The increased expression of BMPs and osteoinductive biomarkers suggest that nano-hydroxyapatite may stimulate the proliferation and differentiation of local alveolar osteoblasts and thus encourage bone regeneration at sites of alveolar bone regeneration.

Nanohydroxyapatite; Human osteoblasts; Alveolar bone regeneration