Comparing cellular bone matrices for posterolateral spinal fusion in a rat model

Cliff Lin, Nianli Zhang, Erik I. Waldorff, Paolo Punsalan, David Wang, Eric Semler, James T. Ryaby, Jung Yoo, Brian Johnstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cellular bone matrices (CBM) are allograft products that provide three components essential to new bone formation: an osteoconductive scaffold, extracellular growth factors for cell proliferation and differentiation, and viable cells with osteogenic potential. This is an emerging technology being applied to augment spinal fusion procedures as an alternative to autografts. Methods: We aim to compare the ability of six commercially-available human CBMs (Trinity ELITE®, ViviGen®, Cellentra®, Osteocel® Pro, Bio4® and Map3®) to form a stable spinal fusion using an athymic rat model of posterolateral fusion. Iliac crest bone from syngeneic rats was used as a control to approximate the human gold standard. The allografts were implanted at L4-5 according to vendor specifications in male athymic rats, with 15 rats in each group. MicroCT scans were performed at 48 hours and 6 weeks post-implantation. The rats were euthanized 6 weeks after surgery and the lumbar spines were harvested for X-ray, manual palpation and histology analysis by blinded reviewers. Results: By manual palpation, five of 15 rats of the syngeneic bone group were fused at 6 weeks. While Trinity ELITE had eight of 15 and Cellentra 11 of 15 rats with stable fusion, only 2 of 15 of ViviGen-implanted spines were fused and zero of 15 of the Osteocel Pro, Bio4 and Map3 produced stable fusion. MicroCT analysis indicated that total bone volume increased from day 0 to week 6 for all groups except syngeneic bone group. Trinity ELITE (65%) and Cellentra (73%) had significantly greater bone volume increases over all other implants, which was consistent with the histological analysis. Conclusion: Trinity ELITE and Cellentra were significantly better than other implants at forming new bone and achieving spinal fusion in this rat model at week 6. These results suggest that there may be large differences in the ability of different CBMs to elicit a successful fusion in the posterolateral spine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1084
JournalJOR Spine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • allograft
  • athymic rat
  • biologic therapies
  • bone graft substitutes
  • cell-based therapy
  • cellular bone matrices
  • pre-clinical models
  • spinal fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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