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Biotechnol Prog. 2005 Jan-Feb;21(1):168-77.

Cryopreservation and in vitro expansion of chondroprogenitor cells isolated from the superficial zone of articular cartilage.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.


Understanding the proliferation mechanisms of chondroprogenitor cells and their influence on cell differentiation is crucial in order to develop large-scale expansion processes for tissue engineering applications. Proliferation control mechanisms were mainly attributed to substrate limitation and cell-cell contact inhibition. The limiting substrates were found to be components of the FCS, with an optimal proliferation rate achieved in the presence of 40% FCS. In addition, the medium supply rate was found to be essential in reducing substrate limitation. In terms of FCS, 10 microL FCS cm(-2) h(-1) was the threshold feed rate required to prevent substrate limitation. Above this rate, maximum cell densities of 5.3 x 10(5) cells/cm2 were achieved, representing a 53-fold expansion. To reduce the need for high supply rates, the effect of specific growth factors was also investigated. Cell densities of 3.3 x 10(5) cells/cm2 were achieved in batch cultures using 40% FCS and 1 ng/mL TGF-beta1. Chondroprogenitor cells were expanded in this medium up to three passages without compromising their ability to differentiate and produce cartilage-like matrix in pellet cultures. In addition to substrate limitation, cell-cell contact, even at very sparse subconfluent densities, appeared capable of exerting some degree of growth inhibition. The cells exhibited deceleratory growth kinetics, characterized by a decrease of specific growth rates over time.

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