JOURNAL ARTICLE

A novel two-step method for the formation of tissue-engineered cartilage by mature bovine chondrocytes: the alginate-recovered-chondrocyte (ARC) method

Koichi Masuda, Robert L Sah, Michael J Hejna, Eugene J-M A Thonar
Journal of Orthopaedic Research: Official Publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society 2003, 21 (1): 139-48
12507591
Most attempts to tissue-engineer cartilage have involved seeding of cultured cells into a biological or synthetic scaffold. We have developed a novel two-step culture approach that makes possible the in vitro formation of cartilaginous-like tissue by mature adult bovine chondrocytes without the aid of a synthetic matrix. The first step consists of culturing chondrocytes under conditions that maintain their rounded shape and their molecular phenotype as assessed by type II collagen and aggrecan production. This step was accomplished by culturing the isolated chondrocytes in alginate beads until the cells have reestablished a proteoglycan-rich cell-associated matrix (CM). The second step consists of culturing the cells with their CM, after recovery from the beads, on a tissue culture insert with a porous membrane. In this study, young adult bovine articular chondrocytes were cultured in alginate beads in the presence of 10% or 20% fetal bovine serum (FBS). After 7 days of culture, the alginate beads were dissolved by incubating the beads for 20 min in sodium citrate buffer, a calcium chelator. Following a brief centrifugation, the cells with their CM were recovered, resuspended in medium containing 10% or 20% FBS and seeded onto a tissue culture insert. After 1 week of culture on the insert, the individual cells with their CM progressively became incorporated into a mass of cartilaginous tissue. Culture with 20% FBS resulted in the best formation of tissues. These tissues, easily recovered from the insert, were then subjected to biochemical and histological analyses. The biochemical results showed that the chondrocytes remain phenotypically stable in the tissues. The de novo tissue has a relatively high ratio of PG/collagen. Histological examination of the tissue revealed it contained a cartilage-like matrix strongly stained with toluidine blue. This scaffold-free system appears ideal to study, in vitro, the development of transplantable cartilaginous tissue.

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