Intra-articular Injection of Cell-laden 3D Microcryogels Empower Low-dose Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis in a Rat Model.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Cell transplantation, 2020, 29, pp. 963689720932142
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Intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in an osteoarthritic joint can help slow down cartilage destruction. However, cell survival and the efficiency of repair are generally low due to mechanical damage during injection and a high rate of cell loss. We, thus, investigated an improved strategy for cell delivery to an osteoarthritic joint through the use of three-dimensional (3D) microcryogels. MSCs were seeded into 3D microcryogels. The viability and proliferation of MSCs in microcryogels were determined over 5 d, and the phenotype of MSCs was confirmed through trilineage differentiation tests and flow cytometry. In Sprague Dawley rats with induced osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee joint, a single injection was made with the following groups: saline control, low-dose free MSCs (1 × 105 cells), high-dose free MSCs (1 × 106 cells), and microcryogels + MSCs (1 × 105 cells). Cartilage degeneration was evaluated by macroscopic examination, micro-computed tomographic analysis, and histology. MSCs grown in microcryogels exhibited optimal viability and proliferation at 3 d with stable maintenance of phenotype in vitro. Microcryogels seeded with MSCs were, therefore, primed for 3 d before being used for in vivo experiments. At 4 and 8 wk, the microcryogels + MSCs and high-dose free MSC groups had significantly higher International Cartilage Repair Society macroscopic scores, histological evidence of more proteoglycan deposition and less cartilage loss accompanied by a lower Mankin score, and minimal radiographic evidence of osteoarthritic changes in the joint compared to the other two groups. In conclusion, intra-articular injection of cell-laden 3D microcryogels containing a low dose of MSCs can achieve similar effects as a high dose of free MSCs for OA in a rat model. Primed MSCs in 3D microcryogels can be considered as an improved delivery strategy for cell therapy in treating OA that minimizes cell dose while retaining therapeutic efficacy.
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