Implications of adipose-derived stromal cells in a 3D culture system for osteogenic differentiation: an in vitro and in vivo investigation

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia, Box 800159, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA. Electronic address: .
The Spine Journal (Impact Factor: 2.8). 01/2013; 13(1):32-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.01.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Healthy mammalian cells in normal tissues are organized in complex three-dimensional (3D) networks that display nutrient and signaling gradients. Conventional techniques that grow cells in a 2D monolayer fail to reproduce the environment that is observed in vivo. In recent years, 3D culture systems have been used to mimic tumor microenvironments in cancer research and to emulate embryogenesis in stem cell cultures. However, there have been no studies exploring the ability for adipose-derived stromal (ADS) cells in a 3D culture system to undergo osteogenic differentiation.
To characterize and investigate the in vitro and in vivo potential for human ADS cells in a novel 3D culture system to undergo osteogenic differentiation.
Basic science and laboratory study.
Human ADS cells were isolated and prepared as either a 2D monolayer or 3D multicellular aggregates (MAs). Multicellular aggregates were formed using the hanging droplet technique. Cells were treated in osteogenic medium in vitro, and cellular differentiation was investigated using gene expression, histology, and microCT at 1-, 2-, and 4-week time points. In vivo investigation involved creating a muscle pouch by developing the avascular muscular interval in the vastus lateralis of male athymic rats. Specimens were then pretreated with osteogenic medium and surgically implanted as (1) carrier (Matrigel) alone (control), (2) carrier with human ADS cells in monolayer, or (3) human ADS cells as MAs. In vivo evidence of osteogenic differentiation was evaluated with micro computed tomography and histologic sectioning at a 2-week time point.
Human ADS cells cultured by the hanging droplet technique successfully formed MAs at the air-fluid interface. Adipose-derived stromal cells cultured in monolayer or as 3D MAs retain their ability to self-replicate and undergo multilineage differentiation as confirmed by increased runx2/Cbfa2, ALP, and OCN and increased matrix mineralization on histologic sectioning. Multicellular aggregate cells expressed increased differentiation potential and extracellular matrix production over the same human ADS cells cultured in monolayer. Furthermore, MAs reseeded onto monolayer retained their stem cell capabilities. When implanted in vivo, significantly greater bone volume and extracellular matrix were present in the implanted specimens of MAs confirmed on both microCT and histological sectioning.
This is the first study to investigate the capability of human ADS cells in a 3D culture system to undergo osteogenic differentiation. The results confirm that MAs maintain their stem cell characteristics. Compared with analogous cells in monolayer culture, the human ADS cells as MAs exhibit elevated levels of osteogenic differentiation and increased matrix mineralization. Furthermore, the creation of uniform spheroids allows for improved handling and manipulation during transplantation. These findings strongly support the concept that 3D culture systems remain not only a viable option for stem cell culture but also possibly a more attractive alternative to traditional culture techniques to improve the osteogenic potential of human adipose stem cells.

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