Transplantation of dedifferentiation fat cells promotes intervertebral disc regeneration in a rat intervertebral disc degeneration model

Enshi Nakayama, Taro Matsumoto, Tomohiko Kazama, Koichiro Kano, Yasuaki Tokuhashi

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Our group has reported that mature adipocyte-derived dedifferentiated fat (DFAT) cells show multilineage differentiation potential similar to that observed in mesenchymal stem cells. In the present study, we examined whether DFAT cell transplantation could contribute to intervertebral disc regeneration using a rat intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) model. The IDD was created in Sprague-Dawley rats by puncturing at level of caudal intervertebral disc under fluoroscopy. One week after injury, rat DFAT cells (5 × 104, DFAT group, n = 13) or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS, control group, n = 13) were injected into the intervertebral disc. Percent disc height index (%DHI) was measured every week and histology of injured disc was evaluated at 8 weeks after transplantation. Radiographic analysis revealed that the %DHI in the DFAT group significantly higher than that in the control group at 2–3 weeks after transplantation. Histological analysis revealed that ectopic formation of nucleus pulposus (NP)-like tissue at the outer layer of annulus fibrosus was frequently observed in the DFAT group but not in the control group. Transplantation experiments using green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labeled DFAT cells revealed that the ectopic NP-like tissue was positive for GFP, suggesting direct differentiation of DFAT cells into NP-like cells. In conclusion, DFAT cell transplantation promoted the regeneration of intervertebral disc and improved intervertebral disc height in the rat IDD model. Because adipose tissue is abundant and easily accessible, DFAT cell transplantation may be an attractive therapeutic strategy against IDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1009
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2017


  • Dedifferentiated fat cell
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Nucleus pulposus-like tissue
  • Regenerated medicine


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