The lack of success associated with the use of bone grafts has motivated the development of tissue engineering approaches for bone defect repair. However, the traditional tissue engineering approach of direct osteogenesis, mimicking the process of intramembranous ossification (IMO), leads to poor vascularization. In this study, we speculate that mimicking an endochondral ossification (ECO) approach may offer a solution by harnessing the potential of hypertrophic chondrocytes to secrete angiogenic signals that support vasculogenesis and enhance bone repair. We hypothesized that stimulation of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) chondrogenesis and subsequent hypertrophy within collagen-based scaffolds would lead to improved vascularization and bone formation when implanted within a critical-sized bone defect in vivo. To produce ECO-based constructs, two distinct scaffolds, collagen-hyaluronic acid (CHyA) and collagen-hydroxyapatite (CHA), with proven potential for cartilage and bone repair, respectively, were cultured with MSCs initially in the presence of chondrogenic factors and subsequently supplemented with hypertrophic factors. To produce IMO-based constructs, CHA scaffolds were cultured with MSCs in the presence of osteogenic factors. These constructs were subsequently implanted into 7 mm calvarial defects on Fischer male rats for up to 8 weeks in vivo. The results demonstrated that IMO- and ECO-based constructs were capable of supporting enhanced bone repair compared to empty defects. However, it was clear that the scaffolds, which were previously shown to support the greatest cartilage formation in vitro (CHyA), led to the highest new bone formation (p < 0.05) within critical-sized bone defects 8 weeks postimplantation. We speculate this to be associated with the secretion of angiogenic signals as demonstrated by the higher VEGF protein production in the ECO-based constructs before implantation leading to the greater blood vessel ingrowth. This study thus demonstrates the ability of recapitulating a developmental process of bone formation to develop tissue-engineered constructs that manifest appreciable promise for bone defect repair.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland ->