Objective. To explore the role that implanted mesenchymal stem cells may play in tissue repair or regeneration of the injured joint, by delivery of an autologous preparation of stem cells to caprine knee joints following induction of osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods. Adult stem cells were isolated from caprine bone marrow, expanded in culture, and transduced to express green fluorescent protein. OA was induced unilaterally in the knee joint of donor animals by complete excision of the medial meniscus and resection of the anterior cruciate ligament. After 6 weeks, a single dose of 10 million autologous cells suspended in a dilute solution of sodium hyaluronan was delivered to the injured knee by direct intraarticular injection. Control animals received sodium hyaluronan alone.
Results. In cell-treated joints, there was evidence of marked regeneration of the medial meniscus, and implanted cells were detected in the newly formed tissue. Degeneration of the articular cartilage, osteophytic remodeling, and subchondral sclerosis were reduced in cell-treated joints compared with joints treated with vehicle alone without cells. There was no evidence of repair of the ligament in any of the joints.
Conclusion. Local delivery of adult mesenchymal stem cells to injured joints stimulates regeneration of meniscal tissue and retards the progressive destruction normally seen in this model of OA.