Formation of a chondro-osseous rudiment in micromass cultures of human bone-marrow stromal cells

Anita Muraglia, Alessandro Corsi, Mara Riminucci, Maddalena Mastrogiacomo, Ranieri Cancedda, Paolo Bianco, Rodolfo Quarto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bone-marrow stromal cells can differentiate into multiple mesenchymal lineages including cartilage and bone. When these cells are seeded in high-density 'pellet culture', they undergo chondrogenesis and form a tissue that is morphologically and biochemically defined as cartilage. Here, we show that dual chondro-osteogenic differentiation can be obtained in the same micromass culture of human bone-marrow stromal cells. Human bone-marrow stromal cells were pellet cultured for 4 weeks in chondro-inductive medium. Cartilage 'beads' resulting from the micromass culture were then subcultured for further 1-3 weeks in osteo-inductive medium. This resulted in the formation of a distinct mineralized bony collar around hyaline cartilage. During the chondrogenesis phase, type I collagen and bone sialoprotein were produced in the outer portion of the cartilage bead, which, upon subsequent exposure to β-glycerophosphate, mineralized and accumulated extracellular bone sialoprotein and osteocalcin. Our modification of the pellet culture system results in the formation of a chondro-osseous 'organoid' structurally reminiscent of pre-invasion endochondral rudiments, in which a bony collar forms around hyaline cartilage. The transition from a cell culture to an organ culture dimension featured by our system provides a suitable model for the dissection of molecular determinants of endochondral bone formation, which unfolds in a precisely defined spatial and temporal frame.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2949-2955
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2003


  • Bone-marrow stromal cells
  • Chondrogenesis
  • Condensation
  • Osteogenesis
  • Osteoprogenitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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