The effect of hypoxia on the chondrogenic differentiation of cocultured articular chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells in scaffolds
Meretoja, Ville V.
Dahlin, Rebecca L.
Kasper, F. Kurtis
Mikos, Antonios G.
In this work, we investigated the effects of lowered oxygen tension (20% and 5% O2) on the chondrogenesis and hypertrophy of articular chondrocytes (ACs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and their co-cultures with a 30:70 AC:MSC ratio. Cells were cultured for six weeks within porous scaffolds, and their cellularity, cartilaginous matrix production (collagen II/I expression ratio, hydroxyproline and GAG content) and hypertrophy markers (collagen X expression, ALP activity, calcium accumulation) were analyzed. After two weeks, hypoxic culture conditions had expedited chondrogenesis with all cell types by increasing collagen II/I expression ratio and matrix synthesis by ∼2.5–11 and ∼1.5–3.0 fold, respectively. At later times, hypoxia decreased cellularity but had little effect on matrix synthesis. ACs and co-cultures showed similarly high collagen II/I expression ratio and GAG rich matrix formation, whereas MSCs produced the least hyaline cartilage-like matrix and obtained a hypertrophic phenotype with eventual calcification. MSC hypertrophy was further emphasized in hypoxic conditions. We conclude that the most promising cell source for cartilage engineering was co-cultures, as they have a potential to decrease the need for primary chondrocyte harvest and expansion while obtaining a stable highly chondrogenic phenotype independent of the oxygen tension in the cultures.
cartilage tissue engineering; chondrocyte; co-culture; gene expression; mesenchymal stem cell