Traditionally, ex vivo gene therapy involves a two-step approach, with culture expansion of cells prior to transduction and implantation. We have tried to simplify this strategy and eliminate the time and cost associated with culture expansion, by introducing "next-day" regional gene therapy using human bone marrow cells. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a lentiviral vector (LV) carrying the cDNA for BMP-2 can transduce freshly isolated human BM cells, leading to abundant BMP production and bone formation in vivo, and evaluate the in vivo osteoinductive potential of "next-day" gene therapy and the standard "two-step" tissue culture expansion approach. To this end, human bone marrow cells (HBMC) from patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty were harvested, transduced with a BMP-2-expressing LV either overnight ("next day" gene therapy; ND) or after culture expansion (cultured "two-step" approach; C) and then implanted into a rat critical-sized femoral defect. The animals were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: I; ND-HBMC transduced with LV-TSTA BMP-2, II; ND-HBMC transduced with LV-TSTA GFP, III; non-transduced ND-HBMC; IV; C-HBMC transduced with LV-TSTA BMP-2, V; C-HBMC transduced with LV-TSTA-GFP, VI; non-transduced C-HBMC. Treatment with either "next-day" or cultured HBMC demonstrated a significant increase in new bone formation compared with all negative control groups as seen in plain radiographs, microCT and histologic/histomorphometric analysis. At 12 weeks post-op, complete defect union on plain X-rays occurred in 7/14 animals in the ND-HBMC/BMP-2 group and 12/14 in the C-HBMC/BMP-2 treated rats. The two-step approach was associated with more consistent results, a higher union rate, and superiority with regards to all of the studied bone healing parameters. In this study we demonstrate proof of concept that BMP-2-transduced human bone marrow cells can be used to enhance bone healing in segmental bone defects, and that regional gene therapy using lentiviral transduction has the osteoinductive potential to heal large bone defects in clinical settings.
Keywords: BMP-2; Bone healing; Ex vivo gene therapy; Human bone marrow.
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