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PLoS One. 2014 Jun 9;9(6):e99587. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099587. eCollection 2014.

Cell-mediated degradation regulates human mesenchymal stem cell chondrogenesis and hypertrophy in MMP-sensitive hyaluronic acid hydrogels.

Author information

  • 1Division of Biomedical Engineering, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China; Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering and the Shun Hing Institute of Advanced Engineering, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China.
  • 2Division of Biomedical Engineering, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China; Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering and the Shun Hing Institute of Advanced Engineering, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China; The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Research Institute, the People's Republic of China.

Abstract

Photocrosslinked methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) hydrogels support chondrogenesis of encapsulated human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). However, the covalent crosslinks formed via chain polymerization in these hydrogels are hydrolytically non-degradable and restrict cartilage matrix spatial distribution and cell spreading. Meanwhile, cells are known to remodel their surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) by secreting catabolic enzymes, such as MMPs. Hydrogels that are created with bifunctional crosslinkers containing MMP degradable peptide sequences have been shown to influence hMSC differentiations. However, crosslinks formed in the MMP-degradable hydrogels of these previous studies are also prone to hydrolysis, thereby confounding the effect of MMP-mediated degradation. The objective of this study is to develop a MMP-sensitive but hydrolytically stable hydrogel scaffold and investigate the effect of MMP-mediated hydrogel degradation on the chondrogenesis of the encapsulated hMSCs. Hyaluronic acid macromers were modified with maleimide groups and crosslinked with MMP-cleavable peptides or control crosslinkers containing dual thiol groups. The chondrogenesis of the hMSCs encapsulated in the hydrolytically stable MMP-sensitive HA hydrogels were compared with that of the MMP-insensitive HA hydrogels. It was found that hMSCs encapsulated in the MMP-sensitive hydrogels switched to a more spreaded morphology while cells in the MMP-insensitive hydrogels remained in round shape. Furthermore, hMSCs in the MMP-sensitive hydrogels expressed higher level of chondrogenic marker genes but lower level of hypertrophic genes compared to cells in the MMP-insensitive hydrogels. As a result, more cartilage specific matrix molecules but less calcification was observed in the MMP-degradable hydrogels than in the MMP-insensitive hydrogels. Findings from this study demonstrate that cell-mediated scaffold degradation regulates the chondrogenesis and hypertrophy of hMSCs encapsulated in HA hydrogels.

PMID:
24911871
[PubMed - in process]
PMCID:
PMC4049825
Free PMC Article

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