Role of oxidative metabolism in osseointegration during spinal fusion

PLoS One. 2020 Nov 9;15(11):e0241998. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0241998. eCollection 2020.


Spinal fusion is a commonly performed orthopedic surgery. Autologous bone graft obtained from the iliac crest is frequently employed to perform spinal fusion. Osteogenic bone marrow stromal (a.k.a. mesenchymal stem) cells (BMSCs) are believed to be responsible for new bone formation and development of the bridging bone during spinal fusion, as these cells are located in both the graft and at the site of fusion. Our previous work revealed the importance of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism in osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs. Our objective here was to determine the impact of BMSC oxidative metabolism on osseointegration of the graft during spinal fusion. The first part of the study was focused on correlating oxidative metabolism in bone graft BMSCs to radiographic outcomes of spinal fusion in human patients. The second part of the study was focused on mechanistically proving the role of BMSC oxidative metabolism in osseointegration during spinal fusion using a genetic mouse model. Patients' iliac crest-derived graft BMSCs were identified by surface markers. Mitochondrial oxidative function was detected in BMSCs with the potentiometric probe, CMXRos. Spinal fusion radiographic outcomes, determined by the Lenke grade, were correlated to CMXRos signal in BMSCs. A genetic model of high oxidative metabolism, cyclophilin D knockout (CypD KO), was used to perform spinal fusion in mice. Graft osseointegration in mice was assessed with micro-computed tomography. Our study revealed that higher CMXRos signal in patients' BMSCs correlated with a higher Lenke grade. Mice with higher oxidative metabolism (CypD KO) had greater mineralization of the spinal fusion bridge, as compared to the control mice. We therefore conclude that higher oxidative metabolism in BMSCs correlates with better spinal fusion outcomes in both human patients and in a mouse model. Altogether, our study suggests that promoting oxidative metabolism in osteogenic cells could improve spinal fusion outcomes for patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bone Transplantation / methods
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Osseointegration*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods
  • Spine / metabolism
  • Spine / pathology
  • Spine / surgery
  • Young Adult