The Masquelet technique is a relatively new method for large bone defect treatment. In this technique, grafted bone tissue is used, and after the cement is removed, the induced membrane (IM; that form around the cement spacers placed in the bone defect region) is thought to play an important role in promoting bone formation. On the other hand, low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) is known to promote fracture healing and angiogenesis through mechanical stimulation. This study aimed to investigate the in vitro effects of LIPUS on the osteogenic differentiation of human induced membrane-derived cells (IMCs).
Seven patients who had been treated using the Masquelet technique were enrolled. The IM was harvested during the second stage of the technique. IMCs were isolated, cultured in growth medium, and then divided into two groups: (1) control group, IMCs cultured in osteogenic medium without LIPUS, and (2) LIPUS group, IMCs cultured in osteogenic medium with LIPUS treatment. Adherent cells from the IM samples were harvested after the first passage and evaluated for cell surface protein expression using immunostaining. A cell proliferation assay was used to count the number of IMCs using a hemocytometer. Osteogenic differentiation capability was assessed using an alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity assay, Alizarin Red S staining, and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
Cell surface antigen profiling revealed that the IMCs contained cells positive for the mesenchymal stem cell-related markers CD73, CD90, and CD105. No significant difference in cell numbers was found between the control and LIPUS groups. The ALP activity of IMCs in the LIPUS group was significantly higher than that in the control group on days 7 and 14. Alizarin red S staining intensity was significantly higher in the LIPUS group than in the control group on day 21. Runx2 and VEGF expression was significantly upregulated on days 7 and 14, respectively, compared with levels in the control group.
We demonstrated the significant effect of LIPUS on the osteogenic differentiation of human IMCs. This study indicates that LIPUS can be used as an additional tool for the enhancement of the healing process of the Masquelet technique.

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