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Ann Biomed Eng. 2004 Mar;32(3):430-4.

Intervertebral disc cell therapy for regeneration: mesenchymal stem cell implantation in rat intervertebral discs.

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  • 1Orthopaedic Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0514, USA.


This study explores the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for intervertebral disc regeneration. We used an in vivo model to investigate the feasibility of exogenous cell delivery, retention, and survival in the pressurized disc space. MSC injection into rat coccygeal discs was performed using 15% hyaluronan gel as a carrier. Injections of gel with or without MSCs were performed. Immediately after injection, fluorescently labeled stem cells were visible on sections of cell-injected discs. Seven and 14 days after injection, stem cells were still present within the disc, but their numbers were significantly decreased. At 28 days, a return to the initial number of injected cells was observed, and viability was 100%. A trend of increased disc height compared to blank gel suggests an increase in matrix synthesis. The results indicate that MSCs can maintain viability and proliferate within the rat intervertebral disc.

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