Scope: Zinc is implicated as an activator for bone formation, however, its influence on bone calcification has not been reported. This study examined how zinc regulates the bone matrix calcification in osteoblasts.
Methods and Results: Two osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cell subclones (SC 4 and SC 24 as high and low osteogenic differentiation, respectively) were cultured in normal osteogenic (OSM), Zinc deficient (Zn–, 1 μM), or adequate (Zn+, 15 μM) media up to 20 days. Cells (SC 4) were also supplemented with (50 μg/mL) or no ascorbic acid (AA) in combination with Zinc treatment. Zn– decreased collagen synthesis and matrix accumulation. Although AA is essential for collagen formation, its supplementation could not compensate for Zinc deficiency-induced detrimental effects on extracellular matrix mineralization. Zn– also decreased the medium and cell layer alkaline phosphatase ALP activity. This decreased ALP activity might cause the decrease of Pi accumulation in response to Zn–, as measured by von Kossa staining. Ca deposition in cell layers, measured by Alizarin red S staining, was also decreased by Zn–.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that zinc deprivation inhibits extracellular matrix calcification in osteoblasts by decreasing the synthesis and activity of matrix proteins, type I collagen and ALP, and decreasing Ca and Pi accumulation. Therefore zinc deficiency can be considered as risk factor for poor extracellular matrix calcification.