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Dental follicle cells (DFCs) are progenitors of alveolar osteoblasts. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and the down-stream activated autophagy process play a key role in cellular energy and metabolic homeostasis and are involved in many biological processes including differentiation. Previous studies showed ambiguous results about the role of AMPK and autophagy in osteogenic differentiation of various osteogenic progenitors, but the role of AMPK and autophagy in DFCs is unknown. This study examined the role of AMPK and autophagy in the osteogenic differentiation of DFCs. We evaluated the expression of AMPK isoforms and autophagy markers during osteogenic differentiation via Western Blot analyses and the impact of AMPK / autophagy activators and inhibitors and siRNAs on osteogenic differentiation via ALP activity assay, Alizarin Red staining and Real-Time Reverse-Transcription PCR. We have shown that expression of AMPK and autophagy markers are regulated during osteogenic differentiation and that activation of AMPK inhibits the ALP activity and other osteogenic markers after induction of osteogenic differentiation, while inhibition of AMPK and autophagy increased the expression of some osteogenic markers. In long-term cultures with osteogenic differentiation medium, however, both the activation and the inhibition of AMPK significantly inhibited biomineralization of DFCs. In contrast, activation or inhibition of autophagy barely affected early differentiation markers, while autophagy inhibition enhanced biomineralization and autophagy activation diminished mineralization capability of DFCs. AMPK regulates the osteogenic differentiation in earlier stages while indirectly affecting biomineralization at least partly via autophagy. The osteogenic differentiation of DFCs is sensitive to changes in AMPK and autophagic activity. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Oliver Pieles, Maria Hartmann, Christian Morsczeck. AMP-activated protein kinase and the down-stream activated process of autophagy regulate the osteogenic differentiation of human dental follicle cells. Archives of oral biology. 2021 Feb;122:104951

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PMID: 33254047

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