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Tissue Eng. 2000 Feb;6(1):29-38.

Novel method for the quantitative assessment of cell migration: a study on the motility of rabbit anterior cruciate (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) cells.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0630, USA.


A novel method of quantitating cell migration has been proposed for the potential utilization of tissue engineered scaffolds. Applying Alt's conservation law to describe the motion of first passage ACL and MCL cells, we have developed a quantitative method to assess innate differences in the motility of cells from these two ligamentous tissues. In this study, first passage ACL and MCL cells were cultured from four mature New Zealand white rabbits. One side of the cell monolayer was scraped completely away to create a wound model. The cell moved into the cell-free area, and cell density profiles were analyzed at 6 h and 12 h. Values of the random motility coefficient (mu) were then estimated by curve fitting the 6 h and 12 h data to a mathematical model, derived from the conservation law of cell flux. During 6 h of incubation in medium supplemented with 1% FBS, MCL cells (mu(MCL) = 4.63 +/- 0.65 X 10(-6) mm(2)/sec) were significantly (p < 0.05) more mobile than ACL cells (mu(ACL) = 2.51 +/- 0.31 X 10(-6) mm(2)/sec). At 12 h, the MCL cells also appeared to move faster (mu(ACL) = 4.39 +/- 0.63 X 10(-6) mm(2)/sec, mu(MCL) = 6.59 +/- 1.47 X 10(-6) mm(2)/sec), but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.18). Exposure of the cells to growth factors PDGF-BB or bFGF for 6 h had no significant effect on the migration of the ACL and MCL cells. However, exposure of the ACL cells (p < 0.05) and the MCL cells (p = 0.19) to 1 ng/mL of PDGFBB for 12 h enhanced their migration. Incubation with a high concentration (100 ng/mL) of PDGF-BB or bFGF at concentrations tested (1 or 100 ng/mL) for 12 h, produced little or no migratory stimulation on these ligament cells. Our findings support the previous qualitative observations made by numerous investigators. The novel methodology developed in this study may provide a basis for tissue engineering, and the results may be applied to tissue reconstruction techniques of the knee ligaments.

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