Cyclooxygenase-2 gene disruption promotes proliferation of murine calvarial osteoblasts in vitro

Zheng Xu, Shilpa Choudhary, Yosuke Okada, Olga Voznesensky, Cynthia Alander, Lawrence Raisz, Carol Pilbeam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is highly expressed in osteoblasts, and COX-2 produced prostaglandins (PGs) can increase osteoblastic differentiation in vitro. The goal of this study was to examine effects of COX-2 expression on calvarial osteoblastic proliferation and apoptosis. Primary osteoblasts (POBs) were cultured from calvariae of COX-2 wild-type (WT) and knockout (KO) mice. POB proliferation was evaluated by 3H-thymidine incorporation and analysis of cell replication and cell cycle distribution by flow cytometry. POB apoptosis was evaluated by annexin and PI staining on flow cytometry. As expected, PGE2 production and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity were increased in WT cultures compared to KO cultures. In contrast, cell numbers were decreased in WT compared to KO cells by day 4 of culture. Proliferation, measured on days 3-7 of culture, was 2-fold greater in KO than in WT POBs and associated with decreased Go/G1 and increased S cell cycle distribution. There was no significant effect of COX-2 genotype on apoptosis under basal culture conditions on day 5 of culture. Cell growth was decreased in KO POBs by the addition of PGE2 or a protein kinase A agonist and increased in WT POBs by the addition of NS398, a selective COX-2 inhibitor. In contrast, differentiation and cell growth in marrow stromal cell (MSC) cultures, evaluated by ALP and crystal violet staining respectively, were increased in MSCs from WT mice compared to MSCs from KO mice, and exogenous PGE2 increased cell growth in KO MSC cultures. We conclude that PGs secondary to COX-2 expression decrease osteoblastic proliferation in cultured calvarial cells but increase growth of osteoblastic precursors in MSC cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-76
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Marrow stromal cells
  • Mitogenesis
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Prostaglandins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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