Intervertebral disc degeneration could be treated using mesenchymal stem cells

Researchers explored how mesenchymal stem cells could help to treat intervertebral disc degeneration by accelerating disc matrix remodelling…


Researchers from the universities in Portugal have demonstrated the potential of tissue regeneration in intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration.

The team carried out the study in cow models of IVD degeneration, showing a chemoattractant delivery system that could draw in mesenchymal stem cells to the site of IVD degeneration.

The study showed the recruitment of regenerative cells and reported increased collagen production. It represents a major breakthrough in the spine field, especially as back pain is estimated to affect over 84 percent of the population at some point in their lives, and current clinical solutions mainly alleviate symptoms rather than address underlying problems. 

IVD degeneration is shown through an unbalanced cell catabolic/anabolic activity and cell death. This results in the degradation of the extracellular matrix components and water loss.

The researchers from the Universidade do Porto in Portugal, University Medical Centre in Germany, and the AO Research Institute in Switzerland, hypothesised that repopulating the intervertebral disc with new cells may aid the recovery of tissue homeostasis and revert the process of degeneration. 

They studied the regenerative potential of a hyaluronan (HA)-based chemoattractant delivery system, that can recruit mesenchymal stem cells to the intended region. The researchers demonstrated how mesenchymal stem cell recruitment was enhanced and accelerated disc matrix remodelling. 

The scientists mentioned that this strategy could open new ways of tackling regenerative medicine, and could overcome the disadvantages of cell transplantation to the degenerated disc.

In future, the researcher hope to evaluate the disc mechanical properties after treatment with HA-based chemoattractant delivery system to recruit mesenchymal stem cells to intervertebral disc degeneration.

“This study exemplifies the impact of drug delivery on enhancing a specific cellular activity and thus reverting a tissue degenerative process,” said Professor Antonios Mikos from Rice University, Houstan and Co-Editor of Tissue Engineering

The study was published in the journal Tissue Engineering.

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