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Antioxidants are known to influence metabolism and promote cell survival in a number of cell culture systems. However, their effects on the modulation of bone cell differentiation in vitro are not clearly defined. In the present studies we have investigated the effects of beta-mercaptoethanol (beta ME) and ascorbate alone and in combination on human osteoprogenitors derived from bone marrow fibroblasts. In primary marrow cultures, beta ME stimulated colony formation (2-fold), alkaline phosphatase activity (3.5-fold) and, increased DNA synthesis (8-fold) after 21 days. Cell proliferation was increased significantly by beta ME during the first 4 days of a 10-day culture period, indicating stimulation of marrow osteoprogenitor proliferation. Ascorbate did not significantly augment the effects of beta ME in primary cultures or long-term cultures of passaged bone marrow fibroblasts. These findings indicate a potential beneficial role for beta ME addition for the optimal maintenance of colony formation, cell proliferation and differentiation of marrow osteoprogenitor cells in primary human bone marrow fibroblast cultures.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell biol int

Publication Date





419 - 425


Alkaline Phosphatase, Antioxidants, Ascorbic Acid, Bone Marrow Cells, Cell Differentiation, Cell Division, Cells, Cultured, DNA, Fibroblasts, Humans, Mercaptoethanol, Stem Cells