Glutamate receptors are expressed in osteoblastic cells. The present study was undertaken to investigate the mechanisms underlying the stimulation of osteoblast differentiation by N-methyl- D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation in vitro.
Primary culture of osteoblasts was prepared from SD rats. Microarray was used to detect the changes of gene expression. The effect of NMDA receptor agonist or antagonist on individual gene was examined using RT-PCR. The activity of alkaloid phosphotase (ALP) was assessed using a commercial ALP staining kit.
Microarray analyses revealed that 10 genes were up-regulated by NMDA (0.5 mmol/L) and down-regulated by MK801 (100 μmol/L), while 13 genes down-regulated by NMDA (0.5 mmol/L) and up-regulated by MK801 (100 μmol/L). Pretreatment of osteoblasts with the specific PKC inhibitor Calphostin C (0.05 μmol/L), the PKA inhibitor H-89 (20 nmol/L), or the PI3K inhibitor wortmannin (100 nmol/L) blocked the ALP activity increase caused by NMDA (0.5 mmol/L). Furthermore, NMDA (0.5 mmol/L) rapidly increased PI3K phosphorylation, which could be blocked by pretreatment of wortmannin (100 nmol/L).