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Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2008 Sep;14(3):243-9. doi: 10.1089/ten.tec.2007.0423.

Noninvasive assessment of glycosaminoglycan production in injectable tissue-engineered cartilage constructs using magnetic resonance imaging.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Section, Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.


The glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content of engineered cartilage is a determinant of biochemical and mechanical quality. The ability to measure the degree to which GAG content is maintained or increases in an implant is therefore of importance in cartilage repair procedures. The gadolinium exclusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method for estimating matrix fixed charge density (FCD) is ideally suited to this. One promising approach to cartilage repair is use of seeded injectable hydrogels. Accordingly, we assess the reliability of measuring GAG content in such a system ex vivo using MRI. Samples of the photopolymerizable hydrogel, poly(ethylene oxide) diacrylate, were seeded with bovine chondrocytes (approximately 2.4 million cells/sample). The FCD of the constructs was determined using MRI after 9, 16, 29, 36, 43, and 50 days of incubation. Values were correlated with the results of biochemical determination of GAG from the same samples. FCD and GAG were found to be statistically significantly correlated (R2 = 0.91, p < 0.01). We conclude that MRI-derived FCD measurements of FCD in injectable hydrogels reflect tissue GAG content and that this methodology therefore has potential for in vivo monitoring of such constructs.

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