Chronic back pain is related to intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration and dogs are employed as animal models to develop growth factor- and cell-based regenerative treatments. In this respect, the differential effects of transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1) and bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP2) on canine and human chondrocyte-like cells (CLCs) derived from the nucleus pulposus of degenerated IVDs were studied. Human and canine CLCs were cultured in 3D microaggregates in basal culture medium supplemented with/without TGF-β1 (10 ng/mL) or BMP2 (100 or 250 ng/mL). Both TGF-β1 and BMP2 increased proliferation and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) deposition of human and canine CLCs. TGF-β1 induced collagen type I deposition and fibrotic (re)differentiation, whereas BMP2 induced more collagen type II deposition. In dogs, TGF-β1 induced Smad1 and Smad2 signaling, whereas in humans, it only tended to induce Smad2 signaling. BMP2 supplementation increased Smad1 signaling in both species. This altogether indicates that Smad1 signaling was associated with collagen type II production, whereas Smad2 signaling was associated with fibrotic CLC (re)differentiation. As a step toward preclinical translation, treatment with BMP2 alone and combined with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) was further investigated. Canine male CLCs were seeded in albumin-based hydrogels with/without female bone marrow-derived MSCs (50:50) in basal or 250 ng/mL BMP2-supplemented culture medium. Although the results indicate that a sufficient amount of MSCs survived the culture period, total GAG production was not increased and GAG production per cell was even decreased by the addition of MSCs, implying that MSCs did not exert additive regenerative effects on the CLCs.
- bone morphogenetic protein-2
- intervertebral disc
- mesenchymal stromal cells
- transforming growth factor beta-1