Biomed Mater PMID: 24770944 (2014)

Directing chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells with a solid-supported chitosan thermogel for cartilage tissue engineering.

Huang H1, Zhang X, Hu X, Dai L, Zhu J, Man Z, Chen H, Zhou C, Ao Y.


Hydrogels are attractive for cartilage tissue engineering because of their high plasticity and similarity with the native cartilage matrix. However, one critical drawback of hydrogels for osteochondral repair is their inadequate mechanical strength. To address this limitation, we constructed a solid-supported thermogel comprising a chitosan hydrogel system and demineralized bone matrix. Scanning electron microscopy, the equilibrium scanning ratio, the biodegradation rate, biomechanical tests, biochemical assays, metabolic activity tests, immunostaining and cartilage-specific gene expression analysis were used to evaluate the solid-supported thermogel. Compared with pure hydrogel or demineralized matrix, the hybrid biomaterial showed superior porosity, equilibrium swelling and degradation rate. The hybrid scaffolds exhibited an increased mechanical strength: 75% and 30% higher compared with pure hydrogels and demineralized matrix, respectively. After three days culture, bone-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) maintained viability above 90% in all three materials; however, the cell retention of the hybrid scaffolds was more efficient and uniform than the other materials. Matrix production and chondrogenic differentiation of BMSCs in the hybrid scaffolds were superior to its precursors, based on glycosaminoglycan quantification and hyaline cartilage marker expression after three weeks in culture. Its easy preparation, favourable biophysical properties and chondrogenic capacity indicated that this solid-supported thermogel could be an attractive biomaterial framework for cartilage tissue engineering.

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