Study Design. To identify mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) from degenerate human nucleus pulposus (NP) and compare them with bone marrow (BM) MSC.
Objective. To test whether MSC obtained from NP and BM from the same subjects share similar biologic characteristics.
Summary of Background Data. Recent studies have proposed biologic strategies for the treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration, including cell therapy. Bone marrow (BM) MSC could be an attractive approach to restore disc function, and there is evidence that NP may contain MSC-like cells.
Methods. Tissue samples were obtained from degenerate lumbar NP and from iliac crest of the same 16 patients with degenerative disc diseases, undergoing discectomy and fusion procedures. MSC isolated from both sources were compared regarding their expansion time, immunophenotype, differentiation ability, and molecular analysis.
Results. In all cases, MSC from NP were isolated and expanded. They fulfil nearly all morphological, inmunophenotypical, and differentiation criteria described by the International Society of Cell Therapy for MSC, with the exception that NP-MSC are not able to differentiate into adipocytes. Slight differences were observed with BM-MSC from the same subjects.
Conclusion. The NP contains mesenchymal stem cells. These cells were quite similar to mesenchymal stem cellsfrom BM, with the exception of their adipogenic differentiation ability. These findings suggest that we may treat intervertebral disc degeneration by cell therapy (MSC from BM) and by stimulating endogenous MSC from NP.