New Bone Formation by Murine Osteoprogenitor Cells Cultured on Corticocancellous Allograft Bone

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The gold standard for bone grafting in orthopedics is autograft, however autograft has a limited supply and is associated with significant morbidity at the harvest site. One alternative, allograft bone, provides an osteoconductive scaffold, is in less limited supply, and it does not require a harvest from the patient. However, allograft lacks both osteogenic cells and osteoinductive proteins that make autograft bone so advantageous. This study provides a model to investigate strategies for augmentation of corticocancellous allograft bone discs with bone marrow-derived osteoprogenitor cells (OPCs) plus exogenous growth factors in vitro. In this model, allograft bone discs were created by cutting 1-mm thick slices from the distal femur and proximal tibia of euthanized mice. The allografts were sterilized and scanned by microcomputed tomography (μCT) to provide the pre-culture graft volume and trabecular characteristics. The discs were then seeded with OPCs harvested from murine bone marrow. The seeded grafts were placed in organ culture until harvest, after which they were re-scanned by μCT and the data compared to the corresponding pre-culture data. In addition, bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP-7, also know as osteogenic protein-1 or OP-1), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and OP-1 combined with bFGF were added on a daily basis to the cultures. After final μCT scanning, all grafts were sectioned and evaluated histologically after hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. μCT scans of cultured allografts with cells at 3, 5, and 9 weeks showed a time-dependent, statistically significant increase in bone volume. The trabecular thickness (Tb.Th.) of grafts, from both groups that were augmented with OP-1, showed a statistically significant increase in trabecular thickness of allografts with OPCs. These data suggest that bone marrow-derived OPCs adhere to, and produce, new bone on corticocancellous allograft in vitro. When exogenous OP-1 is added to this model, an increase in the production of bone onto the corticocancellous allograft bone disc is seen. This model allows for the investigation of the effects of multiple growth factors, and other interventions, on OPCs seeded onto allograft bone in vitro.

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