Cartilaginous tissue formation using a mechano-active scaffold and dynamic compressive stimulation

Youngmee Jung, Soo Hyun Kim, Sang-Heon Kim, Young Ha Kim, Jun Xie, Takehisa Matsuda, Byoung Goo Min
Journal of Biomaterials Science. Polymer Edition 2008, 19 (1): 61-74
It is known that complex loading is involved in the development and maintenance of articular cartilage in the body. It means the compressive mechanical stimulation is a very important factor for formation of articular cartilage using a tissue-engineering technique. The objective of this study is to engineer cartilaginous constructs with mechano-active scaffolds and to evaluate the effect of dynamic compression for regeneration of cartilage. The mechano-active scaffolds were prepared from a very elastic poly(L-lactide-co-epsilon-caprolactone) (PLCL) with 85% porosity and 300-500 mum pore size using a gel-pressing method. The scaffold was seeded with 2 x 10(6) chondrocytes and the continuous compressive deformation of 5% strain was applied with 0.1 Hz for 10 days and 24 days, respectively. Then, the chondrocytes-seeded constructs were implanted subcutaneously into nude mice. Mechano-active scaffolds with complete rubber-like elasticity showed almost complete (over 97%) recovery at an applied strain of up to 500%. The amount of chondral extracellular matrix was increased significantly by mechanical stimulation on the highly elastic mechano-active scaffolds. Histological analysis showed the mechanically stimulated implants formed mature and well-developed cartilaginous tissue, as evidenced by the chondrocytes within lacunae and the abundant accumulation of sulfated GAGs. However, unhealthy lacunae shapes and hypertrophy forms were observed in the implants stimulated mechanically for 24 days, compared with those stimulated for 10 days. In conclusion, the proper periodical application of dynamic compression can encourage chondrocytes to maintain their phenotypes and enhance the production of GAGs, which would improve the quality of cartilaginous tissue formed both in vitro and in vivo.

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