First Advisor

Randy D. Zelick

Date of Publication

Summer 8-15-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biology






Bones -- Growth, Bone regeneration, Osteoblasts -- Metabolism, Tissue engineering, Vitamin D -- Physiological effect



Physical Description

1 online resource (xviii, 244 pages)


Most of the load-bearing demand placed on the human body is transduced by skeletal tissue, and the capacity of the skeleton to articulate in various opposing directions is essential for body movement and locomotion. Consequently, cartilage and bone defects due to trauma, disease, and developmental abnormalities result in disabling pain and immobility for millions of people worldwide. A novel way of promoting cartilage and bone regeneration is through the incorporation of either primary cells or multipotent progenitor cells in a three-dimensional (3D) biomaterial scaffold, and/or the addition of exogenous growth and differentiation factors. The first part of this study reports a protocol for using freshly isolated mature chondrocytes seeded in a 3D hydrogel biomaterial scaffold, developed to explore mechanotransduction of engineered cartilage constructs cultured in a designed bioreactor. The bioreactor was designed to allow the application of physiological mechanical forces (compression and fluid flow), as well as a non-invasive/non-destructive method for analyzing regenerating tissue in real time through ultrasound transducers and a computerized monitoring system. In the second part of this study, an engineered immortalized osteoprecursor cell line, designated OPC1 (osteoblastic precursor cell line 1), was used as a culture model system for exploring the effects of exogenous growth and differentiation factors, mainly vitamin D, on early bone development. OPC1 was previously designed to provide a consistent reproducible culture system for direct comparisons of engineered bone constructs, evaluating bone development and cell/biomaterial interactions, and for investigating putative bone differentiating factors. One of the objectives of this research effort was to explore tissue development and regeneration by culturing OPC1 in the presence of vitamin D metabolites vitaD3 and 1,25OH2D3, while assaying the concomitant biological response. Results indicate that OPC1 is capable of metabolizing the parental metabolite vitaD3, and thus 25OHD3, to the active vitamin D form 1,25OH2D3. The metabolism of vita3 resulted in an anti-proliferative and pro-differentiative influence on OPC-1. These results support the hypothesis that extra-endocrine synthesis of 1,25OH2D3 functions in a tissue specific manner to regulate growth and differentiation, in addition to the classic calcimic actions of the vitamin D endocrine pathway. Understanding the influence of vitamin D on bone development will have significant implications on healthy aging, including the susceptibility to skeletal disorders involved in development and aging, such as osteoarthritis (OA) and osteoporosis.


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