Although many different materials, techniques and methods, including artificial or engineered bone substitutes, have been used to repair various bone defects, the restoration of critical-sized bone defects caused by trauma, surgery or congenital malformation is still a great challenge to orthopedic surgeons. One important fact that has been neglected in the pursuit of resolutions for large bone defect healing is that most physiological bone defect healing needs the periosteum and stripping off the periosteum may result in non-union or non-healed bone defects. Periosteum plays very important roles not only in bone development but also in bone defect healing. The purpose of this project was to construct a functional periosteum in vitro using a single stem cell source and then test its ability to aid the repair of critical-sized bone defect in animal models. This project was designed with three separate but closely-linked parts which in the end led to four independent papers. \ud \ud The first part of this study investigated the structural and cellular features in periostea from diaphyseal and metaphyseal bone surfaces in rats of different ages or with osteoporosis. Histological and immunohistological methods were used in this part of the study. Results revealed that the structure and cell populations in periosteum are both age-related and site-specific. The diaphyseal periosteum showed age-related degeneration, whereas the metaphyseal periosteum is more destructive in older aged rats. The periosteum from osteoporotic bones differs from normal bones both in terms of structure and cell populations. This is especially evident in the cambial layer of the metaphyseal area. Bone resorption appears to be more active in the periosteum from osteoporotic bones, whereas bone formation activity is comparable between the osteoporotic and normal bone. The dysregulation of bone resorption and formation in the periosteum may also be the effect of the interaction between various neural pathways and the cell populations residing within it.\ud \ud One of the most important aspects in periosteum engineering is how to introduce new blood vessels into the engineered periosteum to help form vascularized bone tissues in bone defect areas. The second part of this study was designed to investigate the possibility of differentiating bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) into the endothelial cells and using them to construct vascularized periosteum. The endothelial cell differentiation of BMSCs was induced in pro-angiogenic media under both normoxia and CoCl2 (hypoxia-mimicking agent)-induced hypoxia conditions. The VEGF/PEDF expression pattern, endothelial cell specific marker expression, in vitro and in vivo vascularization ability of BMSCs cultured in different situations were assessed. Results revealed that BMSCs most likely cannot be differentiated into endothelial cells through the application of pro-angiogenic growth factors or by culturing under CoCl2-induced hypoxic conditions. However, they may be involved in angiogenesis as regulators under both normoxia and hypoxia conditions. Two major angiogenesis-related growth factors, VEGF (pro-angiogenic) and PEDF (anti-angiogenic) were found to have altered their expressions in accordance with the extracellular environment. BMSCs treated with the hypoxia-mimicking agent CoCl2 expressed more VEGF and less PEDF and enhanced the vascularization of subcutaneous implants in vivo. \ud \ud Based on the findings of the second part, the CoCl2 pre-treated BMSCs were used to construct periosteum, and the in vivo vascularization and osteogenesis of the constructed periosteum were assessed in the third part of this project. The findings of the third part revealed that BMSCs pre-treated with CoCl2 could enhance both ectopic and orthotopic osteogenesis of BMSCs-derived osteoblasts and vascularization at the early osteogenic stage, and the endothelial cells (HUVECs), which were used as positive control, were only capable of promoting osteogenesis after four-weeks. The subcutaneous area of the mouse is most likely inappropriate for assessing new bone formation on collagen scaffolds. This study demonstrated the potential application of CoCl2 pre-treated BMSCs in the tissue engineering not only for periosteum but also bone or other vascularized tissues. \ud \ud In summary, the structure and cell populations in periosteum are age-related, site-specific and closely linked with bone health status. BMSCs as a stem cell source for periosteum engineering are not endothelial cell progenitors but regulators, and CoCl2-treated BMSCs expressed more VEGF and less PEDF. These CoCl2-treated BMSCs enhanced both vascularization and osteogenesis in constructed periosteum transplanted in vivo
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