One of the effects observed during several screening studies for osteocompatibility in vitro was that cells derived from the upper and lower jaw exhibited distinct differences regarding proliferation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine systematically whether a single osteoblast possesses abilities which are specific to the upper or lower jaw. Both human maxillary and mandibular bone samples without any clinical or radiographic evidence of pathology were obtained from 4 male donors aged between 40 and 45 years. Cells were cultured for up to 25 days to investigate in vitro development. Total and apoptotic cell numbers were estimated by image analysis. Cells were identified as bone-like cells using immunocytochemical determination of bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteocalcin expression. The number of healthy cells was significantly higher for cells of the lower jaw compared to those of the upper jaw. The number of apoptotic cells showed an inverse pattern. The expression pattern of osseo-inductive BSP correlated with the proliferation rate of the cells. The pattern of osteocalcin expression was related to the number of apoptotic cells. Our findings are new but were anticipated regarding the well-known differences in the healing process around implants in the lower jaw versus the upper jaw. Additionally, a relationship between our results and some diseases of the lower/upper jaw seems obvious. Future work on cell responses to biomaterials should define the origin of the cells more precisely.

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