• mesenchymal stem cells;
  • osteonecrosis;
  • differentiation


The purpose of this study was to investigate the survival and differentiation status of MSCs transplanted to ONFH. Traumatic ONFH was surgically produced in skeletally mature mongrel dogs. Osteonecrosis was treated with either saline (control) or autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) transplantation after decompression. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used to track the transplanted MSCs, the differentiation of MSCs were evaluated by fluorescent double-labeling with GFP between osteocalcin or von Willebrand factor (vWF) at 2nd, 8th, and 12th week after the transplantation. It was demonstrated that GFP-positive cells were present in the necrotic area up to 12 weeks after the transplantation, their number increased from 15% at 2nd week to 38% at 12th week (p < 0.05). Neither osteocalcin nor vWF was detected by immunocytochemistry in GFP-labeled MSCs in vitro, but osteocalcin was immunohistochemically positive in 90% of the GFP-labeled MSCs in vivo, while vWF was still negative. The vWF expression was of no significant difference between the control group and MSCs-transplanted group. The percentages of trabeculae bone volume were 9.36% and 8.42% at 2nd week (p > 0.05), 22.82% and 14.72% at 8th week, and 31.08% and 20.66% at 12th week (p < 0.05) in MSCs-transplanted group and control group, respectively; new trabeculae bone in MSCs-transplanted group was significantly increased as compared to that of control group at 8th and 12th week. The results demonstrated that the transplanted MSCs could survive, proliferate, and differentiate into osteoblasts directly, which contributed to the accelerated repair process. The possible mechanism is site-dependant differentiation. © 2008 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 27: 442–446, 2009