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Biomaterials. 2006 Jan;27(3):388-96. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

The potential of chitosan-based gels containing intervertebral disc cells for nucleus pulposus supplementation.

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  • 1Genetics Unit, Shriners Hospital for Children, and Department of Surgery, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


The suitability of chitosan-based hydrogels as scaffolds for the encapsulation of intervertebral disc (IVD) cells and the accumulation of a functional extracellular matrix mimicking that of the nucleus pulposus (NP) was investigated. The specific hypothesis under study was that the cationic chitosan would form an ideal environment in which large quantities of newly synthesized anionic proteoglycan could be entrapped. Indeed, all the formulations of cell-seeded chitosan hydrogels, studied under in vitro culture conditions, showed that the majority of proteoglycan produced by encapsulated NP cells was retained within the gel rather than released into the culture medium. This was not always the case when annulus fibrosus cells were encapsulated, as unlike the nucleus cells the annulus cells often did not survive when cultured in chitosan. The results support the concept that chitosan may be a suitable scaffold for cell-based supplementation to help restore the function of the NP during the early stages of IVD degeneration.

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