Generation of osteochondral tissue constructs with chondrogenically and osteogenically predifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells encapsulated in bilayered hydrogels
Meretoja, Ville V.
Mikos, Antonios G.
Kasper, F. Kurtis
This study investigated the ability of chondrogenic and osteogenic predifferentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to play a role in the development of osteochondral tissue constructs using injectable bilayered oligo(poly(ethylene glycol) fumarate) (OPF) hydrogel composites. We hypothesized that the combinatorial approach of encapsulating cell populations of both chondrogenic and osteogenic lineages in a spatially controlled manner within bilayered constructs would enable these cells to maintain their respective phenotypes via the exchange of biochemical factors even without the influence of external growth factors. During monolayer expansion prior to hydrogel encapsulation, it was found that 7 (CG7) and 14 (CG14) days of MSC exposure to TGF-β3 allowed for the generation of distinct cell populations with corresponding chondrogenic maturities as indicated by increasing aggrecan and type II collagen/type I collagen expression. Chondrogenic and osteogenic cells were then encapsulated within their respective (chondral/subchondral) layers in bilayered hydrogel composites to include four experimental groups. Encapsulated CG7 cells within the chondral layer exhibited enhanced chondrogenic phenotype when compared to other cell populations based on stronger type II collagen and aggrecan gene expression and higher glycosaminoglycan-to-hydroxyproline ratios. Osteogenic cells that were co-cultured with chondrogenic cells (in the chondral layer) showed higher cellularity over time, suggesting that chondrogenic cells stimulated the proliferation of osteogenic cells. Groups with osteogenic cells displayed mineralization in the subchondral layer, confirming the effect of osteogenic predifferentiation. In summary, it was found that MSCs that underwent 7 days, but not 14 days, of chondrogenic predifferentiation most closely resembled the phenotype of native hyaline cartilage when combined with osteogenic cells in a bilayered OPF hydrogel composite, indicating that the duration of chondrogenic preconditioning is an important factor to control. Furthermore, the respective chondrogenic and osteogenic phenotypes were maintained for 28 days in vitro without the need for external growth factors, demonstrating the exciting potential of this novel strategy for the generation of osteochondral tissue constructs for cartilage engineering applications.
chondrogenic predifferentiation; osteogenic predifferentiation; mesenchymal stem cells; bilayered hydrogel; co-culture