[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the mouse bone marrow stromal cell line ST2 has been known to be differentiated into osteoblasts, the differentiation characteristics of the cell into adipocyte and the concerned relationship between its adipogenesis and osteogenesis remains unknown. The adipogenic induction medium which is made up of insulin, dexamethasone (DEX) and 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine(IBMX), stimulated the expression of n early adipogenic marker PPAR gamma and a late marker GPDH in ST2 cells. The triglyceride accumulation and lipid stain level generated by the induction medium in ST2 cells was inhibited by RA with IC(50) at about 1 nM. The induction medium up-regulated expression of PPARgamma and GPDH was also inhibited by RA whereas RA (30 nM) exterted no effect on the cell growth. Interestingly, treatment of the cells with induction medium in the presense of RA caused a 3- or 10-fold higher in ALP activity respectively as compared to those treated with RA or the induction medium alone. RT-PCR analysis showed that such a synergistic effect of RA and the induction medium paralleled the process of inhibition on adipogenesis. Additional experiments showed that IBMX played a key role in increasing the effect of RA and ALP activity. Our results suggested that the relationship between adipogenesis and osteogenesis in ST2 cells was reciprocally interrelated and the process of adipogenesis could be potentially reversed into an osteoblastogenic tendency. This is the first report demonstrating that RA transforms adipogenic potential into an osteoblastic tendency.