The intervertebral disc (IVD) presents a limited self-repair ability and cell-based therapies have been suggested to prevent or treat IVD lesions. Fibrin-based scaffolds as cell carriers are promising candidates in IVD tissue engineering, thanks to their ability to be easily delivered into the defect and to adapt to the lesion shape, to support/retain the injected cells into the implantation site and to favor the production of a suitable extracellular matrix (ECM). We evaluated the in vitro and in vivo behavior of human nucleus pulposus (NP) and annulus fibrosus (AF) cells in a clinical-grade collagen-enriched fibrin that has never been tested before for orthopedic applications, comparing it with clinical-grade fibrin. The survival of IVD cells seeded within fibrin or collagen-enriched fibrin and the ECM synthesis were evaluated by biochemical, immunohistochemical, and transcriptional analyses, prior and after subcutaneous implantation of the gels in nude mice. After 28 days of implantation, NP and AF cells were still detectable within explants, produced tissue-specific ECM, and showed a higher content of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and type I and II collagen compared to gels before implantation. Both the fibrin gels, enriched or not with collagen, seemed to be suitable for the culture of AF cells, being able to support the homogeneous synthesis of type I collagen, characteristic of the native fibrocartilaginous AF tissue. Differently, fibrin alone was a more suitable matrix for NP culture, supporting the homogeneous deposition of GAGs and type II collagen. In conclusion, our results suggest to combine AF cells with fibrin, enriched or not with collagen, and NP cells with fibrin alone to maintain the typical features of these cell populations, indicating these clinical-grade materials as viable options in cell-based treatments for IVD lesions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering