Periosteum responds to dynamic fluid pressure by proliferating In vitro

D. B.F. Saris, A. Sanyal, K. N. An, J. S. Fitzsimmons, S. W. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Periosteum provides a source of undifferentiated chondrocyte precursor cells for fracture healing that can also be used for cartilage repair. The quantity of cartilage that can be produced, which is a determining factor in fracture healing and cartilage repair, is related to the number of available stem cells in the cambium layer. Cartilage formation during both of these processes is enhanced by motion of the fracture or joint in which periosteum has been transplanted. The effect of dynamic fluid pressure on cell proliferation in periosteal tissue cultures was determined in 452 explants from 60 immature (2-month-old) New Zealand White rabbits. The explants were cultured in agarose suspension for 1-14 days. One group was subjected to cyclic hydrostatic pressure, which is referred to as dynamic fluid pressure, at 13 kPa and a frequency of 0.3 Hz. Control explants were cultured in similar chambers without application of pressure. DNA synthesis ([3H]thymidine uptake) and total DNA were measured. The temporal pattern and distribution of cell proliferation in periosteum were evaluated with autoradiography and immunostaining with proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Dynamic fluid pressure increased proliferation of periosteal cells significantly, as indicated by a significant increase in [3H]thymidine uptake at all time points and a higher amount of total DNA compared with control values. On day 3, when DNA synthesis reached a peak in periosteal explants, [3H]thymidine uptake was 97,000 ± 5,700 dpm/μg DNA in the group exposed to dynamic fluid pressure and 46,000 ± 6,000 dpm/μg in the controls (p < 0.001). Aphidicolin, which blocks DNA polymerase α, inhibited [3H]thyrnidine uptake in a dose-dependent manner in the group subjected to dynamic fluid pressure as well as in the positive control (treated with 10 ng/ml of transforming growth factor-β1) and negative control (no added growth factors) groups, confirming that [3H]thymidine measurements represent proliferation and dynamic fluid pressure stimulates DNA synthesis. Total DNA was also significantly higher in the group exposed to dynamic fluid pressure (5,700 ± 720 ng/mg wet weight) than in the controls (3,700 ± 630) on day 3 (p < 0.01). Autoradiographs with [3H]thymidine revealed that one or two cell cycles of proliferation took place in the fibrous layer prior to proliferation in the cambium layer (where chondrocyte precursors reside). Proliferating cell nuclear antigen immunophotomicrographs confirmed the increased proliferative activity due to dynamic fluid pressure. These findings suggest either a paracrine signaling mechanism between the cells in these two layers of the periosteum or recruitment/migration of proliferating cells from the fibrous to the cambium layer. On the basis of the data presented in this study, we postulate that cells in the fibrous layer respond initially to mechanical stimulation by releasing growth factors that induce undifferentiated cells in the cambium layer to divide and differentiate into chondrocytes. These data indicate that cell proliferation in the early stages of chondrogenesis is stimulated by mechanical factors. These findings are important because they provide a possible explanation for the increase in cartilage repair tissue seen in joints subjected to continuous passive motion. The model of in vitro periosteal chondrogenesis under dynamic fluid pressure is valuable for studying the mechanisms by which mechanical factors might be involved in the formation of cartilage in the early fracture callus and during cartilage repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-677
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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