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It has been shown in several laboratories that addition of beta-glycerophosphate (beta GP), a substrate for alkaline phosphatase (AP), to cultured osteoblast-like cells induces deposition of orthophosphate (Pi) and Ca within seven days. Even though this effect is regarded as an in vitro model of bone mineralization, it is not known whether it is specific for osteoblasts. We have, therefore, studied the amounts of Pi and Ca deposited after seven days with 10 mM beta GP in culture wells containing confluent cultures of osteoblast-like cells (OB) derived from human trabecular bone explants, human skin fibroblasts (SF), or culture medium alone (MED). Ox liver AP at an activity considerably greater than the endogenous AP activity of the cells, but comparable with that of other osteoblast models, was added to ensure a similar rate of Pi generation from beta GP in all wells. beta GP was converted quantitatively to Pi within seven days, leading to a nonphysiological 10-fold increase in the Pi concentration in the culture medium. After thorough rinsing on day seven, the OB and SF wells contained deposits of Pi and Ca, but the amounts were comparable for the two cell types. Smaller, but significant, amounts of Pi and Ca were also detectable even in rinsed MED wells. This suggests that the detection of such deposits in beta GP experiments cannot necessarily be interpreted as a specific property of osteoblast cultures in vitro, and may simply reflect the presence of AP.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





385 - 391


Alkaline Phosphatase, Calcification, Physiologic, Calcium, Cells, Cultured, Fibroblasts, Glycerophosphates, Humans, Osteoblasts, Phosphates, Plasma