• orthopedics;
  • bone morphogenetic protein;
  • stem cells;
  • muscle;
  • sexual dimorphism


This study compared the osteogenic differentiation of F-MDSCs and M-MDSCs. Interestingly, M-MDSCs expressed osteogenic markers and underwent mineralization more readily than F-MDSCs; a characteristic likely caused by more osteoprogenitor cells within the M-MDSCs than the F-MDSCs and/or an accelerated osteogenic differentiation of M-MDSCs.

Introduction: Although therapies involving stem cells will require both female and male cells, few studies have investigated whether sex-related differences exist in their osteogenic potential. Here, we compared the osteogenic differentiation of female and male mouse skeletal muscle–derived stem cells (F- and M-MDSCs, respectively), a potential cell source for orthopedic tissue engineering.

Materials and Methods: F- and M-MDSCs were stimulated with bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)4, followed by quantification of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and expression of osteogenic genes. F- and M-MDSCs were also cultured as pellets in osteogenic medium to evaluate mineralization. Single cell–derived colonies of F- and M-MDSCs were stimulated with BMP4, stained for ALP, and scored as either Low ALP+ or High ALP+ to detect the presence of osteoprogenitor cells. F- and M-MDSCs were transduced with a BMP4 retrovirus (MDSC-BMP 4 cells) and used for the pellet culture and single cell–derived colony formation assays. As well, F- and M-MDSC -BMP 4 cells were implanted in the intramuscular pocket of sex-matched and sex-mismatched hosts, and bone formation was monitored radiographically.

Results and Conclusions: When stimulated with BMP4, both F- and M-MDSCs underwent osteogenic differentiation, although M-MDSCs had a significantly greater ALP activity and a larger increase in the expression of osteogenic genes than F-MDSCs. In the pellet culture assay, M-MDSCs showed greater mineralization than F-MDSCs. BMP4 stimulation of single cell–derived colonies from M-MDSCs showed higher levels of ALP than those from F-MDSCs. Similar results were obtained with the MDSC-BMP 4 cells. In vivo, F-MDSC -BMP 4 cells displayed variability in bone area and density, whereas M-MDSC -BMP 4 cells showed a more consistent and denser ectopic bone formation. More bone formation was also seen in male hosts compared with female hosts, regardless of the sex of the implanted cells. These results suggest that M-MDSCs may contain more osteoprogenitor cells than F-MDSCs, which may have implications in the development of cellular therapies for bone healing.