Advances in tissue-engineering have resulted in a versatile tool-box to specifically design a tailored microenvironment for hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in order to study diseases that develop within this setting. However, most current in vivo models fail to recapitulate the biological processes seen in humans. Here we describe a highly reproducible method to engineer humanized bone constructs that are able to recapitulate the morphological features and biological functions of the HSC niches. Ectopic implantation of biodegradable composite scaffolds cultured for 4 weeks with human mesenchymal progenitor cells and loaded with rhBMP-7 resulted in the development of a chimeric bone organ including a large number of human mesenchymal cells which were shown to be metabolically active and capable of establishing a humanized microenvironment supportive of the homing and maintenance of human HSCs. A syngeneic mouse-to-mouse transplantation assay was used to prove the functionality of the tissue-engineered ossicles. We predict that the ability to tissue engineer a morphologically intact and functional large-volume bone organ with a humanized bone marrow compartment will help to further elucidate physiological or pathological interactions between human HSCs and their native niches.
Keywords: Bone organ; Engraftment; Hematopoietic stem cells; Humanized niche; Tissue Engineering; Transplantation.
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