Articular chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells seeded on biodegradable scaffolds for the repair of cartilage in a rat osteochondral defect model
This work investigated the ability of co-cultures of articular chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to repair articular cartilage in osteochondral defects. Bovine articular chondrocytes and rat MSCs were seeded in isolation or in co-culture onto electrospun poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds and implanted into an osteochondral defect in the trochlear groove of 12-week old Lewis rats. Additionally, a blank PCL scaffold and untreated defect were investigated. After 12 weeks, the extent of cartilage repair was analyzed through histological analysis, and the extent of bone healing was assessed by quantifying the total volume of mineralized bone in the defect through microcomputed tomography. Histological analysis revealed that the articular chondrocytes and co-cultures led to repair tissue that consisted of more hyaline-like cartilage tissue that was thicker and possessed more intense Safranin O staining. The MSC, blank PCL scaffold, and empty treatment groups generally led to the formation of fibrocartilage repair tissue. Microcomputed tomography revealed that while there was an equivalent amount of mineralized bone formation in the MSC, blank PCL, and empty treatment groups, the defects treated with chondrocytes or co-cultures had negligible mineralized bone formation. Overall, even with a reduced number of chondrocytes, co-cultures led to an equal level of cartilage repair compared to the chondrocyte samples, thus demonstrating the potential for the use of co-cultures of articular chondrocytes and MSCs for the in vivo repair of cartilage defects.
Articular chondrocyte; Mesenchymal stem cell; Co-culture; Rat osteochondral defect; Cartilage regeneration