Microfracture, a common procedure for treatment of cartilage injury, induces fibrocartilage repair by recruiting bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to the site of cartilage injury. However, fibrocartilage is inferior biomechanically to hyaline cartilage. SRY-type high-mobility group box-9 (SOX9) is a master regulator of chondrogenesis by promoting proliferation and differentiation of MSC into chondrocytes. In this study we aimed to test the therapeutic potential of cell penetrating recombinant SOX9 protein in regeneration of hyaline cartilage in situ at the site of cartilage injury. We generated a recombinant SOX9 protein which was fused with super positively charged green fluorescence protein (GFP) (scSOX9) to facilitate cell penetration. scSOX9 was able to induce chondrogenesis of bone marrow derived MSC in vitro. In a rabbit cartilage injury model, scSOX9 in combination with microfracture significantly improved quality of repaired cartilage as shown by macroscopic appearance. Histological analysis revealed that the reparative tissue induced by microfracture with scSOX9 had features of hyaline cartilage; and collagen type II to type I ratio was similar to that in normal cartilage. This short term in vivo study demonstrated that when administered at the site of microfracture, scSOX9 was able to induce reparative tissue with features of hyaline cartilage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)