eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-Profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2017   Volume No 33 – pages 240-251

Title: Comparative analysis in continuous expansion of bovine and human primary nucleus pulposus cells for tissue repair applications

Authors: DH Rosenzweig, J Tremblay Gravel, D Bisson, JA Ouellet, MH Weber, L Haglund

Address: McGill University Health Centre, Department of Surgery, Montreal General Hospital, Room C10.148.2, 1650 Cedar Ave, Montreal, QC H3G 1A4

E-mail: lisbet.haglund at

Key Words: cell culture, intervertebral disc, nucleus pulposus cells, tissue engineering, elastic culture surfaces.


Publication date: March 24th 2017

Abstract: Autologous NP cell implantation is a potential therapeutic avenue for intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration. However, monolayer expansion of cells isolated from surgical samples may negatively impact matrix production by way of dedifferentiation. Previously, we have used a continuous expansion culture system to successfully preserve a chondrocyte phenotype. In this work, we hypothesised that continuous expansion culture could also preserve nucleus pulposus (NP) phenotype. We confirmed that serial passaging drove NP dedifferentiation by significantly decreasing collagen type II, aggrecan and chondroadherin (CHAD) gene expression, compared to freshly isolated cells. Proliferation, gene expression profile and matrix production in both culture conditions were compared using primary bovine NP cells. Both standard culture and continuous culture produced clinically relevant cell populations. However, continuous culture cells maintained significantly higher collagen type II, aggrecan and CHAD transcript expression levels. Also, continuous expansion cells generated greater amounts of proteoglycan, collagen type II and aggrecan protein deposition in pellet cultures. To our surprise, continuous expansion of human intervertebral disc cells – isolated from acute herniation tissue – produced less collagen type II, aggrecan and CHAD genes and proteins, compared to standard culture. Also, continuous culture of cells isolated from young non-degenerate tissue did not preserve gene and protein expression, compared to standard culture. These data indicated that primary bovine and human NP cells responded differently to continuous culture, where the positive effects observed for bovine cells did not translate to human cells. Therefore, caution must be exercised when choosing animal models and cell sources for pre-clinical studies.

Article download: Pages 240-251 (PDF file)