Intervertebral disc tissue engineering II: Cultures of nucleus pulposus cells

Jean C. Gan, Paul Ducheyne, Edward J. Vresilovic, Irving M. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The main objective of the current investigation was to regenerate cells of the nucleus pulposus without loss of phenotype. Nucleus pulposus cells were isolated from intervertebral discs from adult rabbits, grown in monolayer culture, and then maintained as a micromass pellet in tube culture. The specimens were evaluated by transmission and light microscopy, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemistry. Nucleus pulposus cells proliferated in monolayer culture. When almost confluent, the cells were transferred to a tube and sedimented to form a pellet. The cells reverted to a rounded configuration and formed cell nests surrounded by extensive extracellular matrix, similar to that seen in vivo. These cells did not proliferate. Similar to that observed in situ, cells in pellet culture also expressed aggrecan, CD44, collagen Type II, and collagen Type I, but not collagen Type X, and had low alkaline phosphatase activity. The results of the investigation indicated that nucleus pulposus cells grown in monolayer culture might revert to their original characteristics when transferred to an environment that allows three-dimensional growth, such as upon implantation, a one-step approach. The results also indicated that the two-stage culture procedure might provide an expedient technique to regenerate nucleus pulposus tissue for disc repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-324
Number of pages10
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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