Inhibition of induced endochondral bone development in caffeine-treated rats

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Administration, Oral; Animals; Bone Development; Bone Transplantation; Caffeine; Cartilage; Cells, Cultured; Gene Expression; Male; Osteoblasts; RNA, Messenger; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley


Cell Biology


We have addressed questions raised by the observation in fetal rats of delayed ossification induced by caffeine at maternal doses above 80 mg/kg body weight per day. The effect of caffeine on endochondral bone development and mineralization has been studied in an experimental model system of bone formation which involves implantation of demineralized bone particles (DBP) in subcutaneous pockets of young growing rats. Caffeine's effects on cellular events associated with endochondral ossification were examined directly by quantitating cellular mRNA levels of chondrocyte and osteoblast growth and differentiation markers in DBP implants from caffeine-treated rats harvested at specific stages of development (day 7 through day 15). Oral caffeine administration to rats implanted with DBP resulted in a dose dependent inhibition of the formation of cartilage tissue in the implants. Histologic examination of the implants revealed a decrease in the number of cells which were transformed to chondrocytes compared to control implants. Those cartilaginous areas that did form, however, proceeded through the normal sequelae of calcified cartilage and bone formation. At the 100 mg/kg dose, cellular levels of mRNA for histone, collagen type II, and TGF beta were all reduced by greater than 40% of control implants consistent with the histological findings. Alkaline phosphatase activity in the implants and mRNA levels for proteins reflecting the hypertrophic chondrocyte and bone phenotype, collagen type I and osteocalcin were markedly decreased compared to controls. Lower doses of 50 and 12.5 mg/kg caffeine also resulted in decreased cellular proliferation and transformation to cartilage histologically and reflected by significant inhibition of type II collagen mRNA levels (day 7). The effects of caffeine on gene expression observed in vivo during the period of bone formation (day 11 to day 15) in the DBP model were similar to the inhibited expression of H4, alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, and osteopontin found in fetal rat calvarial derived osteoblast cultures following 24 hour exposure of the cultures to 0.4 mM caffeine. Thus the observed delayed mineralization in the fetal skeleton associated with caffeine appears to be related to an inhibition of endochondral bone formation at the early stages of proliferation of undifferentiated mesenchymal cells to cartilage specific cells as well as at later stages of bone formation.

DOI of Published Version



J Cell Biochem. 1993 Jun;52(2):171-82. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of cellular biochemistry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID