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Biomaterials. 2010 Sep;31(25):6502-10. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.05.017. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

An injectable calcium phosphate-alginate hydrogel-umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell paste for bone tissue engineering.

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Department of Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry, University of Maryland Dental School, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The need for bone repair has increased as the population ages. Stem cell-scaffold approaches hold immense promise for bone tissue engineering. However, currently, preformed scaffolds for cell delivery have drawbacks including the difficulty to seed cells deep into the scaffold, and inability for injection in minimally-invasive surgeries. Current injectable polymeric carriers and hydrogels are too weak for load-bearing orthopedic applications. The objective of this study was to develop an injectable and mechanically-strong stem cell construct for bone tissue engineering. Calcium phosphate cement (CPC) paste was combined with hydrogel microbeads encapsulating human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs). The hUCMSC-encapsulating composite paste was fully injectable under small injection forces. Cell viability after injection matched that in hydrogel without CPC and without injection. Mechanical properties of the construct matched the reported values of cancellous bone, and were much higher than previous injectable polymeric and hydrogel carriers. hUCMSCs in the injectable constructs osteodifferentiated, yielding high alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, collagen type I, and osterix gene expressions at 7 d, which were 50-70 fold higher than those at 1 d. Mineralization by the hUCMSCs at 14 d was 100-fold that at 1 d. In conclusion, a fully injectable, mechanically-strong, stem cell-CPC scaffold construct was developed. The encapsulated hUCMSCs remained viable, osteodifferentiated, and synthesized bone minerals. The new injectable stem cell construct with load-bearing capability may enhance bone regeneration in minimally-invasive and other orthopedic surgeries.

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