Successful closure of bone defects in patients remains an active area of basic and clinical research. A novel and promising approach is the transplantation of human bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), which have been shown to possess a significant osteogenic potential. The extent and quality of bone formation by transplanted human BMSCs strongly depends on the carrier matrix with which cells are transplanted; to date, hydroxyapatite/tricalcium phosphate (HA/TCP) supports far more osteogenesis than any other matrix tested. In order to further improve the technique of BMSC transplantation, we studied whether commercially available HA/TCP particles, clinically approved as an osteoconductive material and commercially available as particles measuring 0.5-1.0 mm diameter, is an optimum matrix for promoting bone development by BMSCs. HA/TCP and HA particles of varying size were sieved into a variety of size ranges, from <0.044 mm to 1.0-2.0 mm. Transplants were formed by mixing 40 mg aliquots of particles with cultured passaged human BMSCs. They were placed in subcutaneous pockets in immunocompromised Bg-Nu-XID mice and harvested 4 or 10 weeks later. The transplants were examined histologically; the presence of bone within each transplant was evaluated using histomorphometry or blindly scored on a semiquantitative scale. Transplant morphology and the amount of new bone varied in a consistent fashion based on particle size and shape. Transplants incorporating HA/TCP particles of 0.1-0.25 mm size demonstrated the greatest bone formation at both 4 and 10 weeks; larger or smaller particles were associated with less extensive bone formation, while a size of 0.044 mm represented a threshold below which no bone formation could be observed. Flat-sided HA particles measuring 0.1-0.25 mm formed no bone. The differences in bone formation were not attributable to the differences in cell attachment among the groups. Instead, the size and spatial and structural organization of the particles within BMSC transplants appear to determine the extent of bone formation. These findings provide necessary information for the successful clinical application of BMSC transplantation techniques.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.