MSCs were harvested by aspiration from the tibia of anesthetized 6-month-old New Zealand White rabbits from Charles River Laboratories (Wilmington, MA) in agreement with protocols approved by the Rice Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and in accordance with the animal care and use guidelines set forth by the National Institutes of Health, as described previously (35). The MSCs were cultured on T225 flasks in minimum essential medium alpha with 20% (v/v) FBS and 1% (v/v) penicillin-streptomycin inside a humidified incubator at 37°C and 5% CO2 and were used at passage 3.