Therapies using mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) seeded scaffolds may be applicable to various fields of regenerative medicine, including craniomaxillofacial surgery. Plastic compression of collagen scaffolds seeded with MSC has been shown to enhance the osteogenic differentiation of MSC as it increases the collagen fibrillary density. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the osteogenic effects of dense collagen gel scaffolds seeded with mesenchymal dental pulp stem cells (DPSC) on bone regeneration in a rat critical-size calvarial defect model.
Two symmetrical full-thickness defects were created (5 mm diameter) and filled with either a rat DPSC-containing dense collagen gel scaffold (n = 15), or an acellular scaffold (n = 15). Animals were imaged in vivo by microcomputer tomography (Micro-CT) once a week during 5 weeks, whereas some animals were sacrificed each week for histology and histomorphometry analysis. Bone mineral density and bone micro-architectural parameters were significantly increased when DPSC-seeded scaffolds were used. Histological and histomorphometrical data also revealed significant increases in fibrous connective and mineralized tissue volume when DPSC-seeded scaffolds were used, associated with expression of type I collagen, osteoblast-associated alkaline phosphatase and osteoclastic-related tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase. Results demonstrate the potential of DPSC-loaded-dense collagen gel scaffolds to benefit of bone healing process.