Treating fracture nonunion with endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) is a promising approach. Nevertheless, the effect of different EPC-related cell populations remains unclear. In this study, we compared the therapeutic potential of early (E-EPCs) and late EPCs (L-EPCs).
Male Fischer 344 rats were used for cell isolation and in vivo experiments. Bone marrow-derived E-EPCs and L-EPCs were kept in culture for seven to ten days and four weeks, respectively. For each treatment group, we seeded one million cells on a gelatin scaffold before implantation in a segmental defect created in a rat femur; control animals received a cell-free scaffold. Bone healing was monitored via radiographs for up to ten weeks after surgery. In vitro, secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 was quantified by ELISA for both cell populations. Tube formation assays were also performed.
Final radiographs showed complete (four out of five rats) or partial (one out of five rats) union with E-EPC treatment. In contrast, complete healing was achieved in only one of five animals after L-EPC implantation, while control treatment resulted in nonunion in all animals. In vitro, E-EPCs released more VEGF, but less BMP-2 than L-EPCs. In addition, L-EPCs formed longer and more mature tubules on basement membrane matrix than E-EPCs. However, co-culture with primary osteoblasts stimulated tubulogenesis of E-EPCs while inhibiting that of L-EPCs.
We demonstrated that bone marrow-derived E-EPCs are a better alternative than L-EPCs for treatment of nonunion. We hypothesize that the expression profile of E-EPCs and their adaptation to the local environment contribute to superior bone healing.
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We would like to thank Sarah Desjardins for the critical reading of the manuscript.
This study was funded by the Orthopedic Trauma Association (OTA) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR; MOP-115111).
All procedures performed in this study involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution at which the study was conducted.
Conflict of interest
Erica M. Giles, Charles Godbout, Wendy Chi, Michael A. Glick, Tony Lin, Ru Li, Emil H. Schemitsch, and Aaron Nauth declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Giles, E.M., Godbout, C., Chi, W. et al. Subtypes of endothelial progenitor cells affect healing of segmental bone defects differently. International Orthopaedics (SICOT) 41, 2337–2343 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00264-017-3613-0
- Stem cell therapy
- Endothelial progenitor cells
- Fracture healing
- Tissue engineering