Use of a chronic model of articular cartilage and meniscal injury for the assessment of long-term effects after autologous mesenchymal stromal cell treatment in sheep
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Regenerative therapies using adult stem cells have attracted great interest in the recent years and offer a promising alternative to current surgical practices. In this report, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of an autologous cell-based treatment of osteoarthritis using mesenchymal stromal cells expanded from bone marrow aspirates that were administered intra-articularly. Ten 2-year old ewes were divided in two groups (for analysis at 6 and 12 months, respectively). Full thickness articular cartilage defects of approximately 60mm2 were created arthroscopically in the medial femorotibial condyles and a meniscal tear in the anterior horn of the medial meniscus in the 20 hind legs. Intra-articular injection of 4mL of either treatment (a suspension of cells) or control (same as treatment, without cells) were applied one month after generating a chronic condition similar to human pathology. Animals were monitored radiographically, by MRI and ultrasound scanning; and macroscopic and histological analyses were conducted at 6 and 12 months. Furthermore a full necropsy was performed at 12 months post-treatment. The intra-articular injection of autologous MSC was safe, as judged by the lack of local or systemic adverse effects during the clinical follow-up and by a full necropsy performed at 12 months post-treatment. Evidence of regeneration of articular cartilage and meniscus was case-dependent but statistically significant improvement was found in specific macroscopic and histological parameters. Such parameters included colour, rigidity, cell distribution and hyaline quality of the refill tissue as well as the structure of subchondral bone. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.