Evaluation of the effects of preconditioned human stem cells plus a scaffold and photobiomodulation administration on stereological parameters and gene expression levels in a critical size bone defect in rats

Lasers Med Sci. 2022 Jul;37(5):2457-2470. doi: 10.1007/s10103-022-03509-z. Epub 2022 Jan 24.


We assessed the impact of photobiomodulation (PBM) plus adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) during the anabolic and catabolic stages of bone healing in a rat model of a critical size femoral defect (CSFD) that was filled with a decellularized bone matrix (DBM). Stereological analysis and gene expression levels of bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4), Runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), and stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF1) were determined. There were six groups of rats. Group 1 was the untreated control or DBM. Study groups 2-6 were treated as follows: ASC (ASC transplanted into DBM, then implanted in the CSFD); PBM (CSFD treated with PBM); irradiated ASC (iASC) (ASCs preconditioned with PBM, then transplanted into DBM, and implanted in the CSFD); ASC + PBM (ASCs transplanted into DBM, then implanted in the CSFD, followed by PBM administration); and iASC + PBM (the same as iASC, except CSFDs were exposed to PBM). At the anabolic step, all treatment groups had significantly increased trabecular bone volume (TBV) (24.22%) and osteoblasts (83.2%) compared to the control group (all, p = .000). However, TBV in group iASC + PBM groups were superior to the other groups (97.48% for osteoblast and 58.8% for trabecular bone volume) (all, p = .000). The numbers of osteocytes in ASC (78.2%) and iASC + PBM (30%) groups were remarkably higher compared to group control (both, p = .000). There were significantly higher SDF (1.5-fold), RUNX2 (1.3-fold), and BMP4 (1.9-fold) mRNA levels in the iASC + PBM group compared to the control and some of the treatment groups. At the catabolic step of bone healing, TBV increased significantly in PBM (30.77%), ASC + PBM (32.27%), and iASC + PBM (35.93%) groups compared to the control group (all, p = .000). There were significantly more osteoblasts and osteocytes in ASC (71.7%, 62.02%) (p = .002, p = .000); PBM (82.54%, 156%), iASC (179%, 23%), and ASC + PBM (108%, 110%) (all, p = .000), and iASC + PBM (79%, 100.6%) (p = .001, p = .000) groups compared to control group. ASC preconditioned with PBM in vitro plus PBM in vivo significantly increased stereological parameters and SDF1, RUNX2, and BMP4 mRNA expressions during bone healing in a CSFD model in rats.

Keywords: Critical size bone defect; Photobiomodulation; Preconditioned human adipose-derived stem cell; Rats; Scaffold; Stereology; mRNA gene expression.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone and Bones* / injuries
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit* / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Rats
  • Stem Cells*


  • Bmp4 protein, rat
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • CXCL12 protein, rat
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 1 Subunit
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Runx2 protein, rat