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Isolation and Characterization of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells From Human Degenerated Nucleus Pulposus: Comparison With Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells From the Same Subjects

Blanco, Juan F. MD, PhD*†; Graciani, Ignacio F. MD†‡; Sanchez-Guijo, Fermin M. MD, PhD†‡§; Muntión, Sandra PhD†‡; Hernandez-Campo, Pilar PhD†‡; Santamaria, Carlos PhD†‡; Carrancio, Soraya BS (Biology)†‡; Barbado, Maria-Victoria BS (Biology)‡¶; Cruz, Graciela BS (Biology)†‡; Gutierrez-Cosío, Silvia PhD†§; Herrero, Carmen BS (Biology)†§; San Miguel, Jesus F. MD, PhD†‡§; Briñon, Jesus G. MD, PhD†¶; del Cañizo, Maria-Consuelo MD, PhD†‡§

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181cb8828
Basic Science

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.

Mesenchymal stromal cells from nucleus pulposus have been isolated and expanded. Their morphologic, immunophenotypical, molecular characteristics and differentiation abilities were compared to those obtained from bone marrow of the same patients. Nucleus pulposus-mesenchymal stromal cells are fairly similar to bone marrow-mesenchymal stromal cells, with the exception that they do not differentiate into adipocytes. SUPPLEMENTAL DIGITAL CONTENT IS AVAILABLE IN THE TEXT.

From the *Servicio de Traumatología, Hospital Universitario de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain; †Centro en Red de Medicina Regenerativa y Terapia Celular de Castilla y León, Salamanca, Spain; ‡Servicio de Hematología, Hospital Universitario de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain; §Centro de Investigación del Cáncer-IBMCC (Universidad de Salamanca-CSIC), Salamanca, Spain; and ¶Departamento de Biologia Celular, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain.

Acknowledgment date: July 17, 2009. First revision date: September 3, 2009. Second revision date: October 15, 2009. Acceptance date: October 19, 2009.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

Institutional and Foundations funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

Supported by (partially) Consejería de Sanidad de Castilla y León (GRS/201/B/08) and Federación de Cajas de Ahorros de Castilla y León.

The authors J.F.B. and I.F.G. contributed equally to the present work.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Fermin M. Sanchez-Guijo, MD, PhD, Servicio de Hematologia, Hospital Universitario de Salamanca, Paseo de San Vicente 58–182, 37007 Salamanca, Spain; E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.