In Vitro Osteogenic Induction Of Human Gingival Fibroblasts For Bone Regeneration

Nesrine Z Mostafa1, Hasan Uludağ2, 3, 4, Mathew Varkey5, Douglas N Dederich1, Michael R Doschak2, 4, Tarek H El-Bialy1, 2, *
1 Department of Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
2 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
3 Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
4 Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
5 Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Wound Healing Research Group, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada

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© Mostafa et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Alberta, Department of Dentistry Room 4051C, Dentistry/Pharmacy Centre Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2N8; Tel: 780-492-2751; Fax: 780-492-1624; E-mail:


Background And Objective:

Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease causing bone loss, and is a primary cause of tooth loss. Gingival fibroblasts are readily available with minimal donor site morbidity and may be ideal for tissue engineering efforts in regenerating lost alveolar bone. Dexamethasone (Dex) is commonly employed for in vitro osteogenic induction of a variety of cells, but its effect on human gingival fibroblasts (HGF) is still controversial. Therefore, the aim of our study was to investigate the osteogenic differentiation of HGF following Dex treatment.


Cultured HGFs were exposed to osteogenic medium containing a wide range of Dex concentrations (0.01-10 µM). The osteogenic phenotype was assessed based on changes in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, the mRNA expression of selected extracellular matrix proteins critical for mineralization and the extent of extracellular mineralization (Von Kossa staining and Ca-content).


All assays showed a consistent and maximal osteogenic effect of Dex on HGF at 0.1 and 0.5 µM (weeks 3 and 4), as evidenced by significant osteopontin and osteocalcin expression and mineralization. Longer cultures (week 4) also yielded positive osteogenic effect of Dex at 0.01 µM. Moreover, ALP activity was significantly stimulated at 0.1 and 0.5 µM Dex initially after one week, but ALP was subsequently reduced under Dex. Higher Dex concentrations caused down regulation of osteogenic effects observed at the optimal (0.1-0.5 µM) concentrations.


Under appropriate osteogenic conditioning, Dex treated HGFs could be a potential source of cells for cell-based therapy for periodontal bone regeneration.

Keywords: Periodontitis, gingival fibroblasts, dexamethasone, osteogenic differentiation, bone regeneration.