Main content area

Promoted Chondrogenesis of Cocultured Chondrocytes and Mesenchymal Stem Cells under Hypoxia Using In-situ Forming Degradable Hydrogel Scaffolds

Huang, Xiaobin, Hou, Yong, Zhong, LeiLei, Huang, Dechun, Qian, Hongliang, Karperien, Marcel, Chen, Wei
Biomacromolecules 2018 v.19 no.1 pp. 94-102
cartilage, chondrocytes, chondrogenesis, coculture, engineering, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, gelation, gene expression, genetic markers, humans, hydrogels, hypoxia, normoxia, oxygen, polymers, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, rheology, stem cells
We investigated the effects of different oxygen tension (21% and 2.5% O₂) on the chondrogenesis of different cell systems cultured in pH-degradable PVA hydrogels, including human articular chondrocytes (hACs), human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), and their cocultures with a hAC/hMSC ratio of 20/80. These hydrogels were prepared with vinyl ether acrylate-functionalized PVA (PVA-VEA) and thiolated PVA-VEA (PVA-VEA-SH) via Michael-type addition reaction. The rheology tests determined the gelation of the hydrogels was controlled within 2–7 min, dependent on the polymer concentrations. The different cell systems were cultured in the hydrogel scaffolds for 5 weeks, and the safranin O and GAG assay showed that hypoxia (2.5% O₂) greatly promoted the cartilage matrix production with an order of hAC > hAC/hMSC > hMSC. The real time quantitative PCR (RT-PCR) revealed that the hMSC group exhibited the highest hypertrophic marker gene expression (COL10A1, ALPL, MMP13) as well as the dedifferentiated marker gene expression (COL1A1) under normoxia conditions (21% O₂), while these expressions were greatly inhibited by coculturing with a 20% amount of hACs and significantly further repressed under hypoxia conditions, which was comparative to the sole hAC group. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) also showed that coculture of hMSC/hAC greatly reduced the catabolic gene expression of MMP1 and MMP3 compared with the hMSC group. It is obvious that the hypoxia conditions promoted the chondrogenesis of hMSC by adding a small amount of hACs, and also effectively inhibited their hypotrophy. We are convinced that coculture of hAC/hMSC using in situ forming hydrogel scaffolds is a promising approach to producing cell source for cartilage engineering without the huge needs of primary chondrocyte harvest and expansion.