Regenerative strategies aim to restore the original biofunctionality of the intervertebral disc. Different biomaterials are available, which might support disc regeneration. In the present study, the prospects of success of two hydrogels functionalized with anti-angiogenic peptides and seeded with bone marrow derived mononuclear cells (BMC), respectively, were investigated in an ovine nucleotomy model.Methods
In a one-step procedure iliac crest aspirates were harvested and, subsequently, separated BMC were seeded on hydrogels and implanted into the ovine disc. For the cell-seeded approach a hyaluronic acid-based hydrogel was used. The anti-angiogenic potential of newly developed VEGF-blockers was investigated on ionically crosslinked metacrylated gellan gum hydrogels. Untreated discs served as nucleotomy controls. 24 adult merino sheep were used. After 6 weeks histological, after 12 weeks histological and biomechanical analyses were conducted.Results
Biomechanical tests revealed no differences between any of the implanted and nucleotomized discs. All implanted discs significantly degenerated compared to intact discs. In contrast, there was no marked difference between implanted and nucleotomized discs. In tendency, albeit not significant, degeneration score and disc height index deteriorated for all but not for the cell-seeded hydrogels from 6 to 12 weeks. Cell-seeded hydrogels slightly decelerated degeneration.Conclusions
None of the hydrogel configurations was able to regenerate biofunctionality of the intervertebral disc. This might presumably be caused by hydrogel extrusion. Great importance should be given to the development of annulus sealants, which effectively exploit the potential of (cell-seeded) hydrogels for biological disc regeneration and restoration of intervertebral disc functioning.