Tissue engineering. Part C, Methods

Cartilage-characteristic matrix reconstruction by sequential addition of soluble factors during expansion of human articular chondrocytes and their cultivation in collagen sponges.

PMID 21933021


Articular cartilage has a poor capacity for spontaneous repair. Tissue engineering approaches using biomaterials and chondrocytes offer hope for treatments. Our goal was to test whether collagen sponges could be used as scaffolds for reconstruction of cartilage with human articular chondrocytes. We investigated the effects on the nature and abundance of cartilage matrix produced of sequential addition of chosen soluble factors during cell amplification on plastic and cultivation in collagen scaffolds. Isolated human articular chondrocytes were amplified for two passages with or without a cocktail of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 and insulin (FI). The cells were then cultured in collagen sponges with or without a cocktail of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2, insulin, and triiodothyronine (BIT). The constructs were cultivated for 36 days in vitro or for another 6-week period in a nude mouse-based contained-defect organ culture model. Gene expression was analyzed using polymerase chain reaction, and protein production was analyzed using Western-blotting and immunohistochemistry. Dedifferentiation of chondrocytes occurred during cell expansion on plastic, and FI stimulated this dedifferentiation. We found that addition of BIT could trigger chondrocyte redifferentiation and cartilage-characteristic matrix production in the collagen sponges. The presence of FI during cell expansion increased the chondrocyte responsiveness to BIT.