Inorganic Ions Activate Lineage-Specific Gene Regulatory Networks. Academic Article uri icon


  • Inorganic biomaterials have been shown to direct cellular responses, including cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. Notably, ions released from these inorganic biomaterials play a vital role in defining cell identity, and promoting tissue-specific functions. However, the effect of inorganic ions on cellular functions have yet to be investigated at the transcriptomic level, representing a critical knowledge gap in the development of next-generation of bioactive materials. To address this gap, we investigated the impact of various inorganic ions including silver, copper, titanium, and platinum on human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Our finding showed that silver and copper induce osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation respectively, through enrichment of lineage-specific gene expression program. In particular, silver effectively induced Wingless/Integrated (Wnt) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, which are vital for osteogenesis. On the other hand, copper specifically stimulated Transforming growth factor beta (TGF) signaling, while suppressing Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling, thereby promoting chondrogenesis. In contrast, platinum, tantalum, and titanium ions didn't stimulate regenerative responses. Together, our findings highlight the potential of inorganic biomaterials in tissue regeneration strategies, which currently rely largely on growth factors and small molecule therapeutics. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: This research emphasizes the critical role of bioactive inorganic ions in controlling lineage-specific gene expression patterns in mesenchymal stem cells, effectively modulating the transcriptome landscape and directing cell fate. The study lays the foundation for a systematic database of biomaterial candidates and their effects on cellular functions, which will ultimately streamline the translation of new biomaterials into clinical applications.

published proceedings

  • Acta Biomater

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kersey, A. L., Singh, I., & Gaharwar, A. K.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Kersey, Anna L||Singh, Irtisha||Gaharwar, Akhilesh K

publication date

  • March 2024