Lightning Podiums: Spinal Potpourri - 803B

Presented by: M. Gay


M. Gay(1), A. Mehrkens(2), A. Barbero(3), I. Martin(3), S. Schaeren(2)

(1) University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
(2) University Hospital Basel, Department of Spinal Surgery, Basel, Switzerland
(3) University Hospital Basel, Department of Tissue Engineering, Basel, Switzerland


This project aims to determine whether nasal chondrocytes can be considered as an autologous cell source for cell therapy of disc degeneration by comparing them to MSCs and articular chondrocytes, two cells sources used in phase two clinical trials at the moment. Cells are cultured in in vitro micro-mass culture conditions mimicking facets of a degenerated intervertebral disc, such as hypoxia, low glucose, inflammation, and acidity. The production of the extra cellular matrix is evaluated using immunohistochemistry, quantitative real time PCR, and biochemical analysis. Our data demonstrate MSCs, ACs, and NCs have a similar GAG and Collagen 2 production in response to in vitro conditions simulating singular facets of the IVD environment and the addition of TGFβ1. However, NCs synthesis more of these ECM components than MSCs or ACs when cultured in the same conditions without the addition of the growth factor. Furthermore, growth factor primed NCs maintain an exceeding production of GAG and Collagen 2 compared to both growth factor primed MSCs and ACs in harsher conditions, which combine different characteristics of the degenerated IVD environment. Interestingly, the indifference of ECM production of NCs in response to inflammation factors cannot be linked to the absence of gene expression of the respective receptors. Moreover, NCs as the only cell sources display gene expression of the transcription factor FoxF1, a marker for nucleus pulposus cells. In summary, NCs are more similar to nucleus pulposus cells than MSCs and ACs, as they can better produce ECM in an in vitro IVD environment and express the nucleus pulposus marker FoxF1. These findings encourage the assessment that employing NCs in a cell therapy treatment of degenerated disc disease could promote new matrix production in the disc, which could inhibit or delay further disc height loss if not even lead to disc height gain.