Hepatocyte growth factor and p38 promote osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells

Kristina K. Aenlle, Kevin M. Curtis, Bernard A. Roos, Guy A. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a paracrine factor involved in organogenesis, tissue repair, and wound healing. We report here that HGF promotes osteogenic differentiation through the transcription of key osteogenic markers, including osteocalcin, osterix, and osteoprotegerin in human mesenchymal stem cells and is a necessary component for the establishment of osteoblast mineralization. Blocking endogenous HGF using PHA665752, a c-Met inhibitor (the HGF receptor), or an HGF-neutralizing antibody attenuates mineralization, and PHA665752 markedly reduced alkaline phosphatase activity. Moreover, we report that HGF promotion of osteogenic differentiation involves the rapid phosphorylation of p38 and differential regulation of its isoforms, p38α and p38β. Western blot analysis revealed a significantly increased level of p38α and p38β protein, and reverse transcription quantitative PCR revealed that HGF increased the transcriptional level of both p38α and p38β. Using small interfering RNA to reduce the transcription of p38α and p38β,we saw differential roles for p38α and p38β on the HGF-induced expression of key osteogenic markers. In summary, our data demonstrate the importance of p38 signaling in HGF regulation of osteogenic differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-730
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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