Treatment of large bone defects is a challenging clinical situation that may be benefited from cell therapies based on regenerative medicine. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of local injection of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs) or adipose tissue-derived MSCs (AT-MSCs) on the regeneration of rat calvarial defects. BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs were characterized based on their expression of specific surface markers; cell viability was evaluated after injection with a 21-G needle. Defects measuring 5 mm that were created in rat calvaria were injected with BM-MSCs, AT-MSCs, or vehicle-phosphate-buffered saline (Control) 2 weeks post-defect creation. Cells were tracked by bioluminescence, and 4 weeks post-injection, the newly formed bone was evaluated by µCT, histology, nanoindentation, and gene expression of bone markers. BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs exhibited the characteristics of MSCs and maintained their viability after passing through the 21-G needle. Injection of both BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs resulted in increased bone formation compared to that in Control and with similar mechanical properties as those of native bone. The expression of genes associated with bone formation was higher in the newly formed bone induced by BM-MSCs, whereas the expression of genes involved in bone resorption was higher in the AT-MSC group. Cell therapy based on local injection of BM-MSCs or AT-MSCs is effective in delivering cells that induced a significant improvement in bone healing. Despite differences observed in molecular cues between BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs, both cells had the ability to induce bone tissue formation at comparable amounts and properties. These results may drive new cell therapy approaches toward complete bone regeneration.
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