Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic polyarticular arthritis that primarily affects the small joints but also causes bone erosion in large joints. None of the currently existing treatment approaches is curable. In this study, the effects of human gingiva-derived mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs) on collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mice are examined by experimentally assessing the microstructure and mechanical behaviors of tibia. Bone morphology and mineral density of mouse tibiae were assessed using micro-X-ray computed tomography (micro-CT). Compression testing was performed on mouse tibia to access its stiffness. The deformation and strain localized inside proximal tibia were mapped using mechanical testing coupled with micro-CT and digital volume correlation of micro-CT images. The results show that CIA disease caused bone erosion in epiphyseal cortical bone, which manifested into the adjacent epiphyseal trabecular bone, and also affected the metaphyseal cortical bone. CIA disease also weakened the load-bearing function of proximal tibia. GMSC treatment interfered with the progress of CIA, attenuated the bone erosion in epiphyseal and metaphyseal trabecular bone and resulted in improved load-bearing function of proximal tibia. GMSCs provide a promising potential treatment of autoimmune arthritis.
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