DOI: 10.1302/1358-992x.2024.1.121 ISSN: 1358-992X


V. Tilotta, G. Di Giacomo, C. Cicione, L. Ambrosio, F. Russo, R. Papalia, G. Vadalà, V. Denaro

Invertebral disc degeneration (IDD) is a degenerative disease involving a variety of musculoskeletal and spinal disorders such as lower back pain (LBP). Secretome derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have exerted beneficial effect on tissue regeneration. In this study, the goal was to investigate the paracrine and the anti-inflammatory effects of secretome from interleukin IL1β preconditioned Bone Marrow MSCs (BMSCs) on human nucleus pulposus cells (hNPCs) in a 3D in vitro model.

Secretome was collected from BMSCs (BMSCs-sec) after preconditioning with 10 ng/mL IL1β. hNPCs were isolated from surgical specimens, culture expanded in vitro, encapsulated in alginate beads and treated with: growth medium; IL1β 10 ng/mL; IL1β 10 ng/mL for 24 hours and then BMSCs-sec. We examined: i) cell proliferation and viability (flow cytometry), ii) nitrite production (Griess assay) and ROS quantification (Immunofluorescence) iii) glycosaminoglycan (GAG) amount (DMBB) and iv) gene expression levels of extracellular matrix (ECM) components and inflammatory mediators (qPCR). One-way ANOVA analysis was used to compare the groups under exam and data were expressed as mean ± S.D.

In vitro tests showed an enhancement of hNPCs proliferation after treatment with BMSCs-sec (p ≤ 0.05) compared to IL1β group. After 24 hours, the percentage of dead cells was higher in IL1β treated hNPCs compared to control group and decreased significantly in combined IL1β and BMSCs-sec sample group (p ≤ 0.01). Nitrite and ROS production were significantly mitigated and GAGs content was improved by preconditioned BMSCs-sec (p ≤ 0.05). Furthermore, gene expression levels were modulated by BMSCs-sec treatment compared to controls.

Our results supported the potential use of BMSCs' secretome as a cell-free strategy for IDD, overcoming the side effects of cell-therapy. Moreover, secretome derived from IL1β preconditioned BMSCs was able to reduce hNPCs death, attenuate ECM degradation and oxidative stress counteracting IDD progression.

Acknowledgements: Financial support was received from the “iPSpine” and “RESPINE” Horizon 2020 projects.

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