This study compares the effects of vitamins 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3] and 24,25-(OH)2D3 on populations of chondrocytes at different developmental stages. Confluent third passage chondrocytes derived from the resting zone and adjacent growth region of rat costochondral cartilage were cultured in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium containing 10% fetal bovine serum and increasing concentrations of hormone. After determination of cell number, matrix vesicles and plasma membranes were isolated by differential centrifugation. The effects of hormone on alkaline phosphatase, 5'- nucleotidase, ouabain-sensitive Na+/K+-ATPase, and phospholipid composition were dependent on vitamin D metabolite and were cell specific. Growth cartilage chondrocytes responded primarily to 1,25-(OH)2D3, whereas resting zone cells responded primarily to 24,25-(OH)2D3. 1,25-(OH)2D3 inhibited growth cartilage cell number at pharmacological concentrations and had no effect on resting cartilage cell number. In contrast, 24,25- (OH)2D3 appeared to stimulate resting cartilage cell number at physiological concentrations and inhibit these cells at pharmacological doses, but had no effect on growth cartilage chondrocytes. These data were supported by [3H]thymidine incorporation studies. 1,25-(OH)2D3 stimulated alkaline phosphatase, 5'- nucleotidase activity, and Na+/K+-ATPase activity in the matrix vesicles of growth cartilage cells. 1,25-(OH)2D3 also stimulated Na+/K+-ATPase activity in the matrix vesicles and plasma membranes of resting zone cells. Incubation with 24,25-(OH)2D3 stimulated alkaline phosphatase, 5'-nucleotidase, and Na+/K+- ATPase in the matrix vesicles produced by resting zone cells. In addition, 24,25-(OH)2D3 stimulated Na+/K+-ATPase activity in the plasma membranes of resting zone cells as well as in both matrix vesicles and plasma membranes of growth cartilage cells.
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