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Regeneration of hyaline cartilage promoted by xenogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells embedded within elastin-like recombinamer-based bioactive hydrogels

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Over the last decades, novel therapeutic tools for osteochondral regeneration have arisen from the combination of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and highly specialized smart biomaterials, such as hydrogel-forming elastin-like recombinamers (ELRs), which could serve as cell-carriers. Herein, we evaluate the delivery of xenogeneic human MSCs (hMSCs) within an injectable ELR-based hydrogel carrier for osteochondral regeneration in rabbits. First, a critical-size osteochondral defect was created in the femora of the animals and subsequently filled with the ELR-based hydrogel alone or with embedded hMSCs. Regeneration outcomes were evaluated after three months by gross assessment, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography, showing complete filling of the defect and the de novo formation of hyaline-like cartilage and subchondral bone in the hMSC-treated knees. Furthermore, histological sectioning and staining of every sample confirmed regeneration of the full cartilage thickness and early subchondral bone repair, which was more similar to the native cartilage in the case of the cell-loaded ELR-based hydrogel. Overall histological differences between the two groups were assessed semi-quantitatively using the Wakitani scale and found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05). Immunofluorescence against a human mitochondrial antibody three months post-implantation showed that the hMSCs were integrated into the de novo formed tissue, thus suggesting their ability to overcome the interspecies barrier. Hence, we conclude that the use of xenogeneic MSCs embedded in an ELR-based hydrogel leads to the successful regeneration of hyaline cartilage in osteochondral lesions.

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The authors are grateful for funding from the European Commission (NMP-2014-646075, HEALTH-F4-2011-278557, PITN-GA-2012-317306 and MSCA-ITN-2014-642687), the MINECO of the Spanish Government (MAT2016-78903-R, MAT2016-79435-R, MAT2013-42473-R, MAT2013-41723-R and MAT2012-38043), the Centro en Red de Medicina Regenerativa y Terapia Celular de Castilla y León, and Junta de Castilla y León (VA244U13, VA313U14 and GRS/516/A/10), Spain. Sandra Muntión is supported by grant RD12/0019/0017 from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain.

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Correspondence to José Carlos Rodríguez-Cabello.

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Pescador, D., Ibáñez-Fonseca, A., Sánchez-Guijo, F. et al. Regeneration of hyaline cartilage promoted by xenogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells embedded within elastin-like recombinamer-based bioactive hydrogels. J Mater Sci: Mater Med 28, 115 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10856-017-5928-1

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