Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells embedded in Atelocollagen gel to the intervertebral disc: a potential therapeutic model for disc degeneration.

Biomaterials. 2003 Sep;24(20):3531-41
Authors: Sakai D, Mochida J, Yamamoto Y, Nomura T, Okuma M, Nishimura K, Nakai T, Ando K, Hotta T

Intervertebral disc degeneration is considered to be one of the major causes of low back pain. Despite this irreversible phenomenon, attempts to decelerate disc degeneration using various techniques have been reported. However, to date there has been no proven technique effective for broad clinical application. Based on previous studies, we hypothesize that maintenance of proteoglycan content in the disc is achieved by avoiding the depletion of nucleus pulposus and preserving the structure of the annulus is a primary factor in decelerating disc degeneration. One novel approach to solve the dilemma of intervertebral disc degeneration is found at the stem cell level. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are known to possess the ability to differentiate into various kinds of cells from mesenchymal origin. Although the majority of cells that contribute to disc formation are known to obtain chondrocyte-like phenotypes, no reported study has emphasized the correlation with mesenchymal stem cells. To evaluate the possible potential of MSCs in disc cell research and treatment of degenerative disc disease, autologous MSCs embedded in Atelocollagen gel were transplanted into the discs of rabbits which had undergone a procedure proven to induce degeneration. The results suggest that MSC transplantation is effective in decelerating disc degeneration in experimental models and provided new hopes for treatment of degenerative disc disease in humans. Atelocollagen gel served as an important carrier of MSCs in transplantation, permitting proliferation, matrix synthesis and differentiation of MSCs. This study strengthens the viable efficacy of practical application of MSCs in treatment of intervertebral disc disease.

PMID: 12809782 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]