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J Biotechnol. 2008 Jan 1;133(1):134-45. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

Scaffold-free cartilage by rotational culture for tissue engineering.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Our objective was to investigate the hypothesis that tissue-engineered cartilage with promising biochemical, mechanical properties can be formed by loading mechanical stress under existing cell-cell interactions analogous to those that occur in condensation during embryonic development. By loading dedifferentiated chondrocytes with mechanical stress under existing cell-cell interactions, we could first form a scaffold-free cartilage tissue with arbitrary shapes and a large size with promising biological, mechanical properties. The cartilage tissue which constituted of chondrocytes and ECM produced by inoculated dedifferentiated chondrocytes to a high porous simple mold has arbitrary shapes, and did not need any biodegradable scaffold to control the shape. In contrast, scaffold-free cartilage tissue cultured under static conditions could not keep their shapes; it was fragile tissue. The possibility of scaffold-free organ design was suggested because the cartilage tissue increases steadily in size with culture time; indeed, the growth of cartilage tissue starting from an arbitrary shape might be predictable by mathematical expression. For tissue-engineered cartilage formation with arbitrary shapes, biochemical and mechanical properties, loading dedifferentiated chondrocytes with mechanical stress under existing cell-cell interactions has prominent effects. Therefore, our scaffold-free cartilage model loaded mechanical stress based on a simple mold system may be applicable for tissue-engineered cartilage.

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