Extracellular purines promote the differentiation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells to the osteogenic and adipogenic lineages

Marilena Ciciarello, Roberta Zini, Lara Rossi, Valentina Salvestrini, Davide Ferrari, Rossella Manfredini, Roberto M. Lemoli

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Extracellular nucleotides are potent signaling molecules mediating cell-specific biological functions, mostly within the processes of tissue damage and repair and flogosis. We previously demonstrated that adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) inhibits the proliferation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-hMSCs), while stimulating, in vitro and in vivo, their migration. Here, we investigated the effects of ATP on BM-hMSC differentiation capacity. Molecular analysis showed that ATP treatment modulated the expression of several genes governing adipogenic and osteoblastic (ie, WNT-pathway-related genes) differentiation of MSCs. Functional studies demonstrated that ATP, under specific culture conditions, stimulated adipogenesis by significantly increasing the lipid accumulation and the expression levels of the adipogenic master gene PPARγ (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma). In addition, ATP stimulated osteogenic differentiation by promoting mineralization and expression of the osteoblast-related gene RUNX2 (runt-related transcription factor 2). Furthermore, we demonstrated that ATP stimulated adipogenesis via its triphosphate form, while osteogenic differentiation was induced by the nucleoside adenosine, resulting from ATP degradation induced by CD39 and CD73 ectonucleotidases expressed on the MSC membrane. The pharmacological profile of P2 purinergic receptors (P2Rs) suggests that adipogenic differentiation is mainly mediated by the engagement of P2Y1 and P2Y4 receptors, while stimulation of the P1R adenosine-specific subtype A2B is involved in adenosine-induced osteogenic differentiation. Thus, we provide new insights into molecular regulation of MSC differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1111
Number of pages15
JournalStem Cells and Development
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Hematology


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