Intervertebral disc degeneration often requires bony spinal fusion for long-term relief. Current arthrodesis procedures use bone grafts from autogenous bone, allogenic backed bone, or synthetic materials. Autogenous bone grafts can result in donor site morbidity and pain at the donor site, while allogenic backed bone and synthetic materials have variable effectiveness. Given these limitations, researchers have focused on new treatments that will allow for safe and successful bone repair and regeneration. Mesenchymal stem cells have received attention for their ability to differentiate into osteoblasts, cells that synthesize new bone. With the recent advances in scaffold and biomaterial technology as well as stem cell manipulation and transplantation, stem cells and their scaffolds are uniquely positioned to bring about significant improvements in the treatment and outcomes of spinal fusion and other injuries.
Keywords: mesenchymal stem cell, osteogenesis, scaffolds, bone morphogenetic protein, Wnt, autograft, osteoblast