Enhanced chondrogenesis in co-cultures with articular chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells
Meretoja, Ville V.; Dahlin, Rebecca L.; Kasper, F. Kurtis; Mikos, Antonios G.
In this work, articular chondrocytes (ACs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) with 1:1 and 1:3 cell ratios were co-cultured in order to evaluate if a majority of primary ACs can be replaced with MSCs without detrimental effects on in vitro chondrogenesis. We further used a xenogeneic culture model to study if such co-cultures can result in redifferentiation of passaged ACs. Cells were cultured in porous scaffolds for four weeks and their cellularity, cartilage-like matrix formation and chondrogenic gene expression levels (collagen I and II, aggrecan) were measured. Constructs with primary bovine ACs had ∼1.6 and 5.5 times higher final DNA and glycosaminoglycan contents, respectively, in comparison to those with culture expanded chondrocytes or MSCs harvested from the same animals. Equally robust chondrogenesis was also observed in co-cultures, even when up to 75% of primary ACs were initially replaced with MSCs. Furthermore, species-specific RT-PCR analysis indicated a gradual loss of MSCs in bovine-rabbit co-cultures. Finally, co-cultures using primary and culture expanded ACs resulted in similar outcomes. We conclude that the most promising cell source for cartilage engineering was the co-cultures, as the trophic effect of MSCs may highly increase the chondrogenic potential of ACs thus diminishing the problems with primary chondrocyte harvest and expansion.
cartilage tissue engineering; chondrocyte; co-culture; gene expression; mesenchcymal stem cell