Background: Adipose-derived stromal cells are a potential cell source for the successful healing of skeletal defects. In this study, the authors sought to investigate the potential for cranial suture-derived mesenchymal cells to promote the osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stromal cells. Various reports have previously examined the unique in vitro attributes of suture-derived mesenchymal cells; this study sought to extend those findings. Methods: Suture-derived mesenchymal cells were isolated from wild-type mice (n = 30) from both fusing posterofrontal and patent sagittal sutures. Cells were placed in Transwell inserts with human adipose-derived stromal cells (n = 5 patients) with osteogenic differentiation medium with or without recombinant Noggin (10 to 400 ng/ml). Specific gene expression of osteogenic markers and Hedgehog pathway were assayed; standard osteogenic assays (alkaline phosphatase and alizarin red staining) were performed. All assays were performed in triplicate. Results: Both posterofrontal and sagittal suture-derived mesenchymal cells induced osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stromal cells (p < 0.05). Posterofrontal suture-derived mesenchymal cells induced adipose-derived stromal cell osteogenesis to a greater degree than sagittal suture-derived mesenchymal cells (p < 0.05). This was accompanied by an increase in bone morphogenetic protein expression (p < 0.05). Finally, recombinant Noggin mitigated the pro-osteogenic effects of co-culture accompanied by a reduction in Hedgehog signaling (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Suture-derived mesenchymal cells secrete paracrine factors that induce osteogenic differentiation of multipotent stromal cells (human adipose-derived stromal cells). Cells derived from the fusing posterofrontal suture do this to a significantly greater degree than cells from the patent sagittal suture. Enhanced bone morphogenetic protein and Hedgehog signaling may underlie this paracrine effect.
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