The interaction between co-cultured human nucleus pulposus cells and mesenchymal stem cells in a bioactive scaffold
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into nucleus pulposus (NP) cells upon being co-cultured with NP cells. Important growth factors and morphogens secreted by MSCs during the differentiation process also enhance the biological properties of NP cells. In this study, the interactions between human NP cells and MSCs co-cultured in different cell-ratio (100% NP, 75% NP with 25% MSCs, 50% NP with 50% MSCs, 25% NP with 75% MSCs, and 100% MSCs) in a three-dimensional gelatin/chondroitin-6-sulfate/hyaluronan tri-copolymer scaffold were examined. Results showed that the cell proliferation was increased when NP and MSCs were co-cultured. Real-time PCR and immunohistochemical staining revealed that all co-culture groups produced type II collagen which represent normal NP cells but not type I collagen secreted by degenerated NP cells. FADD expression, which modulates cell survival and extracellular matrix homeostasis, was maintained in a stable status for co-cultured groups. The cultures containing 75% NP cells with 25% MSCs showed high level of collagen production and glycosaminoglycan content. Moreover, 75% NP cells with 25% MSCs had upregulated SOX9 that contributes to the improvement in type II collagen mRNA expression and protein production. These findings showed the NP/MSC cell-ratio influenced the cell functions dramatically. The co-culture of NP/MSC cells in a bioactive scaffold is a promising treatment for intervertebral disc diseases.
► Interactions between human nucleus pulposus (NP) cells and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were demonstrated. ► Co-culture NP/MSCs produced functional type II collagen represents a normal phenotype of NP cells. ► 75% NP/25% MSCs had increases in collagen and glycosaminoglycan production, and upregulation in SOX9 expression. ► The NP/MSC cell ratio influences co-cultured cell functions.
Journal: Process Biochemistry - Volume 47, Issue 6, June 2012, Pages 922–928