Injectable microcryogels reinforced alginate encapsulation of mesenchymal stromal cells for leak-proof delivery and alleviation of canine disc degeneration.

PMID 25956851


In situ crosslinked thermo-responsive hydrogel applied for minimally invasive treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD) may not prevent extrusion of cell suspension from injection site due to high internal pressure of intervertebral disc (IVD), causing treatment failure or osteophyte formation. In this study, mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) were encapsulated in alginate precursor and loaded into previously developed macroporous PGEDA-derived microcryogels (PMs) to form three-dimensional (3D) microscale cellular niches, enabling non-thermo-responsive alginate hydrogel to be injectable. The PMs reinforced alginate hydrogel showed superior elasticity compared to alginate hydrogel alone and could well protect encapsulated cells through injection. Chondrogenic committed MSCs in the injectable microniches expressed higher level of nucleus pulposus (NP) cell markers compared to 2D cultured cells. In an ex vivo organ culture model, injection of MSCs-laden PMs into NP tissue prevented cell leakage, improved cell retention and survival compared to free cell injection. In canine IVDD models, alleviated degeneration was observed in MSCs-laden PMs treated group after six months which was superior to other treated groups. Our results provide in-depth demonstration of injectable alginate hydrogel reinforced by PMs as a leak-proof cell delivery system for augmented regenerative therapy of IVDD in canine models.