Human integrin α10β1-selected mesenchymal stem cells home to cartilage defects in the rabbit knee and assume a chondrocyte-like phenotype

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Fulltext

    Final published version, 2.65 MB, PDF document

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have shown promising results in stimulating cartilage repair and in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). However, the fate of the MSCs after intra-articular injection and their role in cartilage regeneration is not clear. To address these questions, this study investigated (1) homing of labeled human adipose tissue derived integrin α10β1-selected MSCs (integrin α10-MSCs) to a cartilage defect in a rabbit model and (2) the ability of the integrin α10-MSCs to differentiate to chondrocytes and to produce cartilage matrix molecules in vivo.

Integrin α10-MSCs were labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) co-conjugated with Rhodamine B to allow visualization by both MRI and fluorescence microscopy. A cartilage defect was created in the articular cartilage of the intertrochlear groove of the femur of rabbits. Seven days post-surgery, labeled integrin α10-MSCs or vehicle were injected into the joint. Migration and distribution of the SPION-labeled integrin α10-MSCs was evaluated by high-field 9.4 T MRI up to 10 days after injection. Tissue sections from the repair tissue in the defects were examined by fluorescence microscopy.

In vitro characterization of the labeled integrin α10-MSCs demonstrated maintained viability, proliferation rate and trilineage differentiation capacity compared to unlabeled MSCs. In vivo MRI analysis detected the labeled integrin α10-MSCs in the cartilage defects at all time points from 12 h after injection until day 10 with a peak concentration between day 1 and 4 after injection. The labeled MSCs were also detected lining the synovial membrane at the early time points. Fluorescence analysis confirmed the presence of the labeled integrin α10-MSCs in all layers of the cartilage repair tissue and showed co-localization between the labeled cells and the specific cartilage molecules aggrecan and collagen type II indicating in vivo differentiation of the MSCs to chondrocyte-like cells. No adverse effects of the α10-MSC treatment were detected during the study period.

Our results demonstrated migration and homing of human integrin α10β1-selected MSCs to cartilage defects in the rabbit knee after intra-articular administration as well as chondrogenic differentiation of the MSCs in the regenerated cartilage tissue.
Original languageEnglish
Article number206
JournalStem Cell Research & Therapy
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2022

ID: 308120480