Author(s): Ohgushi H
Mesenchymal stem cells reside in bone marrow and, when these cells are incorporated into porous ceramics, the composites exhibit osteo-chondrogenic phenotypic expression in ectopic (subcutaneous and intramuscular) or orthotopic sites. The expressional cascade is dependent upon the material properties of the delivery vehicle. Bioactive ceramics provide a suitable substrate for the attachment of the cells. This is followed by osteogenic differentiation directly on the surface of the ceramic, which results in bone bonding. Nonbioactive materials show neither surface-dependent cell differentiation nor bone bonding. The number of mesenchymal stem cells in fresh adult bone marrow is small, about one per one-hundred-thousand nucleated cells, and decreases with donor age. In vitro cell culture technology can be used to mitotically expand these cells without the loss of their developmental potency regardless of donor age. The implanted composite of porous ceramic and culture-expanded mesenchymal stem cells exhibits in vivo osteo-chondrogenic differentiation. In certain culture conditions, these stem cells differentiate into osteoblasts, which make bone matrix on the ceramic surface. Such in vitro prefabricated bone within the ceramic provides immediate new bone-forming capability after in vivo implantation. Prior to loading of the cultured, marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells into the porous ceramics, exogenous genes can be introduced into these cells in culture. Combining in vitro manipulated mesenchymal stem cells with porous ceramics can be expected to effect sufficient new bone-forming capability, which can thereby provide tissue engineering approaches to patients with skeletal defects in order to regenerate skeletal tissues.