We investigated whether the maintenance in culture of endothelial and mesenchymal progenitors from the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of human adipose tissue supports the formation of vascular structures in vitro and thereby improves the efficiency and uniformity of bone tissue formation in vivo within critically sized scaffolds. Freshly-isolated human SVF cells were seeded and cultured into hydroxyapatite scaffolds (1 cm-diameter, 1 cm-thickness) using a perfusion-based bioreactor system, which resulted in maintenance of CD34(+)/CD31(+) endothelial lineage cells. Monolayer-expanded isogenic adipose stromal cells (ASC) and age-matched bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC), both lacking vasculogenic cells, were used as controls. After 5 days in vitro, SVF-derived endothelial and mesenchymal progenitors formed capillary networks, which anastomosed with the host vasculature already 1 week after ectopic nude rat implantation. As compared to BMSC and ASC, SVF-derived cells promoted faster tissue ingrowth, more abundant and uniform bone tissue formation, with ossicles reaching a 3.5 mm depth from the scaffold periphery after 8 weeks. Our findings demonstrate that maintenance of endothelial/mesenchymal SVF cell fractions is crucial to generate osteogenic constructs with enhanced engraftment capacity. The single, easily accessible cell source and streamlined, bioreactor-based process makes the approach attractive towards manufacturing of clinically relevant sized bone substitute grafts.
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