Repository logo

Soluble silica stimulates osteogenic differentiation and gap junction communication in human dental follicle cells.

Published version

Change log


Uribe, Pamela 
Johansson, Anders 
Jugdaohsingh, Ravin  ORCID logo
Powell, Jonathan J 
Magnusson, Catarina 


Several studies have indicated that dietary silicon (Si) is beneficial for bone homeostasis and skeletal health. Furthermore, Si-containing bioactive glass biomaterials have positive effects on bone regeneration when used for repair of bone defects. Si has been demonstrated to stimulate osteoblast differentiation and bone mineralisation in vitro. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects of Si are not well understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of soluble Si on osteogenic differentiation and connexin 43 (CX43) gap junction communication in cultured pluripotent cells from human dental follicles (hDFC). Neutral Red uptake assay demonstrated that 25 μg/ml of Si significantly stimulated hDFC cell proliferation. Dosages of Si above 100 μg/ml decreased cell proliferation. Alizarin Red staining showed that osteogenic induction medium (OIM) by itself and in combination with Si (25 μg/ml) significantly increased mineralisation in hDFC cultures, although Si alone had no such effect. The expression of osteoblast-related markers in hDFC was analysed with RT-qPCR. OSX, RUNX2, BMP2, ALP, OCN, BSP and CX43 genes were expressed in hDFC cultured for 1, 7, 14 and 21 days. Expression levels of BMP-2 and BSP were significantly upregulated by OIM and Si (25 μg/ml) and were also induced by Si alone. Notably, the expression levels of OCN and CX43 on Day 21 were significantly increased only in the Si group. Flow cytometric measurements revealed that Si (50 μg/ml) significantly increased CX43 protein expression and gap junction communication in hDFC. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics processing were used for the identification of differentially regulated genes and pathways. The influence of OIM over the cell differentiation profile was more prominent than the influence of Si alone. However, Si in combination with OIM increased the magnitude of expression (up or down) of the differentially regulated genes. The gene for cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) was the most significantly upregulated. Genes for the regulator of G protein signalling 4 (RGS4), regulator of G protein signalling 2 (RGS2), and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 1, 8, and 10 were also strongly upregulated. Our findings reveal that soluble Si stimulates Cx43 gap junction communication in hDFC and induces gene expression patterns associated with osteogenic differentiation. Taken together, the results support the conclusion that Si is beneficial for bone health.



Adolescent, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Child, Connexin 43, Dental Sac, Gap Junctions, Humans, Osteoblasts, Osteogenesis, Silicon Dioxide

Journal Title

Sci Rep

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Medical Research Council (MR/R005699/1)