In vitro and in vivo methods to determine the interactions of osteogenic cells with biomaterials.
Oreffo RO., Triffitt JT.
To assess new biomaterials for possible use as bone graft substitutes, a number of techniques allow interactions with osteoblastic cells to be studied, with respect to effects on proliferation and differentiation of osteoprogenitors. In vitro models include the use of bone explant cultures, fetal rat calvarial-derived osteoblast cells, primary stromal populations, transformed and non-transformed cell lines and immortalized osteoblast cell lines. However, these assessments are limited by the extent of osteogenic differentiation and bone formation that can be observed in vitro, species differences and phenotypic drift of cells cultured in vitro. The use of in vivo experimental systems such as the segmental/calvarial bone defect model, the subcutaneous implant model and the diffusion chamber implantation model circumvent some of these issues and, in the appropriate model, provide data on efficacy, biocompatibility and osteointegration of a biomaterial. The combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches together with the development of new cell labeling techniques, in particular the ability to genetically mark and select specific human bone cell populations provides new avenues for their potential evaluation in combination with appropriate biomaterials for clinical use. These in vitro and in vivo techniques are reviewed and those recently developed for assessment of human osteogenic cells should be applicable to many other cell systems where knowledge of specific human tissue or cell interactions with biomaterials is required.