BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Congenital pseudarthrosis of the tibia (CPT) is a rare orthopedic disease presenting spontaneous fractures that do not heal. The treatment of CPT is characterized by repeated surgical procedures that often fail, with the inevitable outcome of severe disability and amputation. We tested the hypothesis that CPT may benefit from regenerative strategies based on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) combined with platelet-rich fibrin (PRF) as a source of growth factors. The aim of the study was to verify whether laboratory testing to assess the osteogenic properties of MSC and the osteo-inductive activity of PRF correlated with the clinical outcome.
METHODS: Ten patients affected by refractory CPT were treated by using MSC derived from the iliac crest (IC-MSC), PRF and lyophilized bone. In six patients, CPT was associated with type 1 neurofibromatosis (NF1). Biochemical, functional and molecular assays were performed to assess the intrinsic osteogenic potential of IC-MSC (cells cultured with fetal calf serum) and the osteo-inductive properties of PRF (cells cultured with autologous serum).
RESULTS: Bone consolidation was obtained in three patients who had CPT and NF1. In these patients, the IC-MSC exposed to autologous serum were able to form mineral nodules in vitro, while the mineralizing ability was totally abrogated in patients with a poor clinical outcome.
CONCLUSIONS: Cell therapy may be a useful tool for the treatment of refractory CPT because it increases the opportunity to achieve effective bone tissue regeneration. Our data suggest that the presence of pro-osteogenic growth factors is an essential requirement for bone healing.