Stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHEDs) are a novel source of multi-potential stem cells for tissue engineering because of their potential to differentiate into multiple cell lineages. Strontium exhibits an important function in bone remodeling because it can simulate bone formation and decrease bone resorption. Hydrogels can mimic the natural cellular environment. The association of hydrogels with cell viability is determined using biological tests, including rheological experiments. In this study, osteogenic differentiation was investigated through SHED encapsulation in hydrogels containing strontium phosphate. Results of 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) immunofluorescence staining indicated that the cells grew well and SHEDs proliferated in the hydrogels. Strontium-loaded chitosan-based hydrogels induced the biomineralization and high expression of alkaline phosphatase. Moreover, the expression levels of bone-related genes, including type-I collagen, Runx2, osteopontin (OP), and osteonectin (ON), were up-regulated during the osteogenic differentiation of SHEDs. This study demonstrated that strontium can be an effective inducer of osteogenesis for SHEDs. Elucidating the function of bioceramics (such as strontium) is useful in designing and developing strategies for bone tissue engineering.
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