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An important aim of regenerative medicine is to restore tissue function with implantable, laboratory-grown constructs that contain tissue-specific cells that replicate the function of their counterparts in the healthy native tissue. It remains unclear, however, whether cells used in bone regeneration applications produce a material that mimics the structural and compositional complexity of native bone. By applying multivariate analysis techniques to micro-Raman spectra of mineralized nodules formed in vitro, we reveal cell-source-dependent differences in interactions between multiple bone-like mineral environments. Although osteoblasts and adult stem cells exhibited bone-specific biological activities and created a material with many of the hallmarks of native bone, the 'bone nodules' formed from embryonic stem cells were an order of magnitude less stiff, and lacked the distinctive nanolevel architecture and complex biomolecular and mineral composition noted in the native tissue. Understanding the biological mechanisms of bone formation in vitro that contribute to cell-source-specific materials differences may facilitate the development of clinically successful engineered bone.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Mater

Publication Date





763 - 770


Animals, Bone and Bones, Calcification, Physiologic, Cell Differentiation, Embryonic Stem Cells, Factor Analysis, Statistical, Gene Expression Regulation, Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Mice, Organ Specificity, Osteoblasts, Regenerative Medicine, Spectrum Analysis, Raman, Time Factors, Tissue Engineering