Biomedical materials (Bristol, England)

Probing cell-matrix interactions in RGD-decorated macroporous poly (ethylene glycol) hydrogels for 3D chondrocyte culture.

PMID 26107534


Macroporous hydrogels have shown great promise as scaffolds for cartilage engineering by facilitating nutrition transport and tissue in growth. Cell-matrix adhesion-a fundamental process in tissue engineering-has shown a profound effect on subsequent cell phenotype, extracellular matrix (ECM) accumulation, and tissue reorganization. In this study, arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) was introduced to macroporous hydrogels of poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) to fabricate PEG-G400 (with 0.4mM RGD) and PEG-G2000 (2mM RGD) to probe the cell-matrix interactions within hydrogels. Primary chondrocytes demonstrated a slightly stretched morphology with increasing RGD concentration and PEG-G2000 hydrogels boosted cell viability, proliferation, and deposition of collagen II and GAG, in comparison to the PEG-G400 and PEG-RED groups. Results also revealed chondrocytes within the cell aggregates underwent dedifferentiation and hypertrophy within RGD incorporated hydrogels, as evidenced by the high level of gene expression of collagen I on day 14 and strong immunohistological staining of collagen X and collagen I on day 35. Evidently, a high concentration of RGD (2mM RGD) enhanced cell-matrix interactions through elevating the expression of integrin β1 and vinculin. Thus, the integration of RGD in macroporous hydrogels with a concentration of 2 mM may be sufficient for improving cell functionality, with a slight probability of dedifferentiation and hypertrophy of chondrocytes.