Casein phosphopeptides promote calcium uptake and modulate the differentiation pathway in human primary osteoblast-like cells

Bianca Maria Donida, Emanuela Mrak, Claudia Gravaghi, Isabella Villa, Stefania Cosentino, Elena Zacchi, Silvia Perego, Alessandro Rubinacci, Amelia Fiorilli, Guido Tettamanti, Anita Ferraretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Casein phosphopeptides (CPPs), originating by in vitro and/or in vivo casein digestion, are characterized by the ability to complex and solubilize calcium ions preventing their precipitation. Previous works demonstrated that CPPs improve calcium uptake by human differentiated intestinal tumor cell lines, are able to re-mineralize carious lesions in a dental enamel, and, as components of a diet, affect bone weight and calcium content in rats. The aim of the present study was to evaluate if CPPs can directly modulate bone cells activity and mineralization. Primary human osteoblast-like cells were established in culture from trabecular bone samples obtained from waste materials during orthopedic surgery. Commercial mixtures of bovine casein phosphopeptides were used. The CPP dependent intracellular calcium rises were monitored at the single cell level through fura2-fluorescence assays. Results show that CPPs: (i) stimulate calcium uptake by primary human osteoblast-like cells; (ii) increase the expression and activity of alkaline phosphatase, a marker of human osteoblast differentiation; (iii) affect the cell proliferation rate and the apoptotic level; (iv) enhance nodule formation by human SaOS-2. Taken together these results confirm the possibility that CPPs play a role as modulator of bone cell activity, probably sustained by their ability as calcium carriers. Although the exact mechanism by which CPPs act remains not completely clarified, they can be considered as potential anabolic factors for bone tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2233-2241
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Bone
  • Calcium
  • Casein phosphopeptides
  • Human primary osteoblast-like cells
  • SaOS-2 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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