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Inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi) may be involved in the regulation of mineralization. The cell surface enzyme, ecto-NTP pyrophosphatase, could be a major source of extracellular PPi in bone, and agents that influence its activity in osteoblasts may modulate bone mineralization. We studied the effects of serum on the ecto-NTP pyrophosphatase activity of cultured human osteoblast-like cells. Enzyme activity was lowered when the concentration of fetal calf serum (FCS) was reduced from 10 to 2.5% (vol/vol) for 48 h, and a further decrease in activity was observed after 96 h. Relative to enzyme activity in cells cultured in serum-free medium for 96 h, adult human platelet-poor plasma (HPPP; 2.5-10% vol/vol) induced a small increase, similar concentrations of adult human serum (HS) induced much larger increases, and charcoal-depleted FCS was ineffective. In an attempt to identify the factor(s) present in serum that influence ecto-NTP pyrophosphatase activity, we examined transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). PDGFs AA, AB, and BB (0.1-10 ng/ml) were ineffective, but both TGF-beta 1 and TGF-beta 2 increased enzyme activity. The increase was dose dependent between 0.001 and 10 ng/ml, was enhanced in the presence of 2% vol/vol FCS, and was not potentiated by PDGF or by 1,25-(OH)2D3. Furthermore, the increase was independent of cell density and was blocked by inhibitors of protein and RNA synthesis. Ecto-NTP pyrophosphatase of subject-matched human dermal fibroblasts was unaffected by TGF-beta (10 ng/ml), suggesting that modulation of activity by the growth factor may be tissue specific. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) probably serves to hydrolyze extracellular PPi in bone. In contrast to effects on NTP pyrophosphatase activity is osteoblast-like cells, TGF-beta 1 and TGF-beta 2 (0.001-10 ng/ml) decreased ALP activity dose dependently after 72 h. By inducing opposing changes in ecto-NTP pyrophosphatase and ALP activities, TGF-beta may increase extracellular PPi concentrations in osseous tissues and consequently modulate bone mineral properties in vivo.

Original publication




Journal article


J bone miner res

Publication Date





99 - 109


Animals, Blood, Cells, Cultured, Culture Media, Serum-Free, Fibroblasts, Humans, Osteoblasts, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor, Pyrophosphatases, Recombinant Proteins, Skin, Transforming Growth Factor beta