Functional recovery of a volumetric skeletal muscle loss injury using mesenchymal stem cells in a PEGylated fibrin gel seeded on an extracellular matrix
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This study investigated the effect of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in a PEGylated fibrin gel (PEG) seeded into a decellularized extracellular matrix (ECM) on recovery of skeletal muscle following a volumetric muscle loss (VML) injury. Six to nine month old male Sprague-Dawley rats were used in this study. Approximately one-third of the skeletal muscle mass of the lateral gastrocnemius (LGAS) was removed from the LGAS, which was immediately replaced with an acellular ECM of the same dimensions. Seven days after injury, animals were injected with one of four solutions: saline (SAL), MSCs (MSC), PEGylated fibrin hydrogel (PEG), or MSCs in PEG (PEG+MSC). Maximal isometric tetanic tension (Po) of the LGAS was assessed fifty-six days after VML injury, followed by histological evaluation. VML injury resulted in a functional impairment of the LGAS capable of producing 76.1± 4.9% of the force generated in the non-injured contralateral LGAS. Tetanic tension of the PEG+MSC treated group was significantly higher compared to all other treatment groups (p < 0.05), although specific tension (N/cm2) in the PEG+MSC group (79.7±4.0%) was only significantly higher compared to SAL (58.2±3.0) and PEG (64.0±2.1%) treated groups (p < 0.05). However, LGAS mass was significantly higher in the PEG+MSC group compared to all other groups (p < 0.05). These findings suggest the combination of the PEG+MSC did not lead to a significant increase in muscle function compared to MSC treatment alone, and demonstrates the importance of MSCs in skeletal muscle regeneration in VML injury models. However, as evident by the significant increase in LGAS mass, PEG+MSC treatment may lead to histological differences not evaluated in this study. Gross morphology of the repaired gastrocnemius was indistinguishable from the contralateral control.