An allograft generated from adult stem cells and their secreted products efficiently fuses vertebrae in immunocompromised athymic rats and inhibits local immune responses

Bret H. Clough, Eoin P. McNeill, Daniel Palmer, Ulf Krause, Thomas J. Bartosh, Christopher D. Chaput, Carl A. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background Context Spine pain and the disability associated with it are epidemic in the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 650,000 spinal fusion surgeries are performed annually in the United States, and yet there is a failure rate of 15%–40% when standard methods employing current commercial bone substitutes are used. Autologous bone graft is the gold standard in terms of fusion success, but the morbidity associated with the procedure and the limitations in the availability of sufficient material have limited its use in the majority of cases. A freely available and immunologically compatible bone mimetic with the properties of live tissue is likely to substantially improve the outcome of spine fusion procedures without the disadvantages of autologous bone graft. Purpose This study aimed to compare a live human bone tissue analog with autologous bone grafting in an immunocompromised rat model of posterolateral fusion. Design/Setting This is an in vitro and in vivo preclinical study of a novel human stem cell–derived construct for efficacy in posterolateral lumbar spine fusion. Methods Osteogenically enhanced human mesenchymal stem cells (OEhMSCs) were generated by exposure to conditions that activate the early stages of osteogenesis. Immunologic characteristics of OEhMSCs were evaluated in vitro. The secreted extracellular matrix from OEhMSCs was deposited on a clinical-grade gelatin sponge, resulting in bioconditioned gelatin sponge (BGS). Bioconditioned gelatin sponge was used alone, with live OEhMSCs (BGS+OEhMSCs), or with whole human bone marrow (BGS+hBM). Efficacy for spine fusion was determined by an institutionally approved animal model using 53 nude rats. Results Bioconditioned gelatin sponge with live OEhMSCs did not cause cytotoxicity when incubated with immunologically mismatched lymphocytes, and OEhMSCs inhibited lymphocyte expansion in mixed lymphocyte assays. Bioconditioned gelatin sponge with live OEhMSC and BGS+hBM constructs induced profound bone growth at fusion sites in vivo, with a comparable rate of fusion with syngeneic bone graft (negative [0 of 10], BGS alone [0 of 10], bone graft [7 of 10], BGS+OEhMSC [10 of 15], and BGS+hBM [8 of 8]). Conclusions Collectively, these studies demonstrate that BGS+OEhMSC constructs possess low immunogenicity and drive vertebral fusion with efficiency matching syngeneic bone graft in rodents. We also demonstrate that BGS serves as a promising scaffold for spine fusion when combined with hBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-430
Number of pages13
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult stem cells
  • Animal model
  • Scaffolds
  • Stem cells
  • Tissue engineering
  • Vertebral fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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