Little is known about the mechanism by which autologous bone grafts are so successful. The relevance of viable osteogenic cells, which is a prominent difference between autologous bone graft and conventional alternatives, is especially controversial. With the emergence of bone tissue engineering, knowledge of the exact role of these cells has become crucial. The most obvious question to answer is whether viability of the graft has an effect on bone formation. In the current study, we investigated this effect of bone graft viability in a transverse process model that represents the initial bone formation in posterolateral spinal fusion. Eight goats received viable and devitalized autologous bone grafts in chambers mounted on the decorticated lumbar transverse processes. In addition, five goats received empty chambers. Histology and histomorphometry were performed after a 12-week implantation, and the dynamics of bone formation was monitored by sequential fluorochrome labeling. An obvious qualitative effect of viability was demonstrated by the presence of early onset osteogenesis distant from the transverse process bone in the viable grafts only. Quantitative analysis indicated about 30% more bone in the viable grafts, however, this difference was not statistically significant. In the empty chambers, bone was found in comparable quantities. We conclude that there is a qualitative advantage of graft viability in terms of early graft-derived osteogenesis. However, this advantage did not lead to significantly more bone formation in the viable bone grafts.
- animal study
- Tissue Engineering