FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

P2X7-induced zeiosis promotes osteogenic differentiation and mineralization of postmenopausal bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells.

PMID 25169056


Polymorphisms of the P2X7 receptor have been associated with increased risk of fractures in postmenopausal women. Although both osteoblasts and osteoclasts express P2X7 receptors, their function in osteogenesis remains controversial. Here, we investigated the role of the P2X7 receptor on osteogenic differentiation and mineralization of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell (BMSC) cultures from postmenopausal women (age 71±3 yr, n=18). We focused on the mechanisms related to intracellular [Ca(2+)]i oscillations and plasma membrane-dynamics. ATP, and the P2X7 agonist BzATP (100 μM), increased [Ca(2+)]i in parallel to the formation of membrane pores permeable to TO-PRO-3 dye uptake. ATP and BzATP elicited reversible membrane blebs (zeiosis) in 38 ± 1 and 70 ± 1% of the cells, respectively. P2X7-induced zeiosis was Ca(2+) independent, but involved phospholipase C, protein kinase C, and Rho-kinase activation. BzATP (100 μM) progressively increased the expression of Runx-2 and Osterix transcription factors by 452 and 226% (at d 21), respectively, alkaline phosphatase activity by 88% (at d 28), and mineralization by 329% (at d 43) of BMSC cultures in a Rho-kinase-dependent manner. In summary, reversible plasma membrane zeiosis involving cytoskeleton rearrangements due to activation of the P2X7-Rho-kinase axis promotes osteogenic differentiation and mineralization of BMSCs, thus providing new therapeutic targets for postmenopausal bone loss.