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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6027402, 10 pages
Research Article

Mechanical Stress Regulates Osteogenesis and Adipogenesis of Rat Mesenchymal Stem Cells through PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β/β-Catenin Signaling Pathway

Department of Orthopedics, Third Affiliated Hospital, PLA Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Yifan Kang

Received 6 September 2016; Revised 16 December 2016; Accepted 22 January 2017; Published 14 February 2017

Academic Editor: Wentian Yang

Copyright © 2017 Fanglong Song et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Osteogenesis and adipogenesis of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) are regarded as being of great importance in the regulation of bone remodeling. In this study, rat BMSCs were exposed to different levels of cyclic mechanical stress generated by liquid drops and cultured in general medium or adipogenic medium. Markers of osteogenic (Runx2 and Collagen I) and adipogenic (C/EBPα, PPARγ, and lipid droplets) differentiation were detected using Western blot and histological staining. The protein levels of members of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β)/β-catenin signaling pathway were also examined. Results showed that small-magnitude stress significantly upregulated Runx2 and Collagen I and downregulated PPARγ and C/EBPα expression in BMSCs cultured in adipogenic medium, while large-magnitude stress reversed the effect when compared with unloading groups. The PI3K/Akt signaling pathway could be strongly activated by mechanical stimulation; however, large-magnitude stress led to decreased activation of the signaling pathway when compared with small-magnitude stress. Activation of β-catenin with LiCl led to increased expression of Runx2 and Collagen I and reduction of C/EBPα and PPARγ expression in BMSCs. Inhibition of PI3K/Akt signaling partially blocked the expression of β-catenin. Taken together, our results indicate that mechanical stress-regulated osteogenesis and adipogenesis of rat BMSCs are mediated, at least in part, by the PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β/β-catenin signaling pathway.