Matrix regulation of skeletal cell apoptosis II: Role of arg-gly-asp-containing peptides

Document Type


Publication Date



This investigation was based on the assumption that arg-gly-asp (RGD)-containing peptides are released from the extracellular matrix of bone and cartilage during the remodeling cycle. We asked the question: Can RGD peptides influence skeletal cell viability? Primary human osteoblasts, mouse MC-3T3-E1 cells, and chick chondrocytes were incubated with purified RGD-containing peptides and cell viability was determined. The RGD peptide did not kill osteoblasts, chondrocytes, or MC-3T3-E1 cells. In contrast, RGDS and GRGDSP peptides killed all three cell types. Osteoblast death was quite rapid, occurring within 6 h of treatment. Transferase uridyl mediated nick end labeling (TUNEL) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis indicated that death was mediated by apoptosis. To learn if mitochondria transduced the death signal, cells were treated with RGDS and organelle function was evaluated using a voltage-sensitive fluorescent probe. It was observed that there was no net loss of fluorescence and, hence, it was concluded that mitochondria were not the primary effectors of the apoptotic response. Experiments were performed with enzyme inhibitors to determine the import of the caspase pathway on RGDS-mediated osteoblast apoptosis. Results of these studies, as well as a study conducted using a fluorescent substrate, pointed to caspase 3 mediating the effector stage of the apoptotic process. Finally, using a purified labeled-RGDS peptide, we showed that the molecule was not restricted by the plasma membrane because it was accumulated in the cytosolic compartment. Results of the investigation support the view that resorption of the extracellular matrix generates peptide products that can induce apoptosis of vicinal cells.

Publication Title

Journal of Bone and Mineral Research





First Page


Last Page



This article was published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Volume 17, Issue 1, Pages 66-76.

The published version is available at .

Copyright © 2002.

This document is currently not available here.