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Collagen scaffolds as a tool for understanding the biological effect of silicates

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Pawelec, KM 
Shepherd, J 
Jugdaohsingh, Ravin  ORCID logo
Best, SM 
Cameron, RE 


Dietary silicon is essential in the maintenance of bone and cartilage. However, the mechanism by which silicon, in the form of silicates, triggers a biological response has never been uncovered. Here we demonstrate the incorporation of orthosilicic acid (Si(OH)4), the form of silicon in the body, within collagen scaffolds for use as an in vitro platform to identify key genes affected by silicates. Ice-templated collagen–silicate scaffolds, containing 0.21 wt% silicon, were validated by examining the mRNA levels for an array of genes in human osteoblasts and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) after 48 h in culture. Several novel genes, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), were identified as having potential links to orthosilicic acid, verifying that collagen–silicate scaffolds are a versatile platform for identifying novel mechanisms in which silicates regulate musculoskeletal tissue.



Silicon, Collagen, Mineralization, Cartilage, Osteoblast, Stem cell

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Materials Letters

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Elsevier BV
European Research Council (320598)
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Gates Cambridge Trust , ERC Advanced Grant 320598 3D-E and from the National Institute for Health Research. RJ is supported by the Medical Research Council (Grant number MC_US_A090_0008/Unit Programme number U1059).