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Biomaterials. 2012 Aug;33(24):5832-40. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.04.054. Epub 2012 May 17.

Chondrogenic differentiation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells induced by acellular cartilage sheets.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Shanghai 9th People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Tissue Engineering, National Tissue Engineering Center of China, 639 Zhi Zao Ju Road, Shanghai 200011, China.


Acellular cartilage sheets (ACSs) have been used as scaffolds for engineering cartilage with mature chondrocytes. In this study we investigated whether ACSs possess a chondrogenic induction activity that may benefit cartilage engineering with multipotent stem cells. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) isolated from newborn pigs were expanded in vitro and seeded on ACSs that were then stacked layer-by-layer to form BMSC-ACS constructs. Cells seeded on polyglycolic acid/polylactic acid (PGA/PLA) scaffolds served as a control. After 4 weeks of culture with or without additional chondrogenic factors, constructs were subcutaneously implanted into nude mice for another 4 weeks. Cartilage-like tissues were formed after 4 weeks of culture. However, formation of cartilage with a typical lacunar structure was only observed in induced groups. RT-PCR showed that aggrecan, COMP, type II collagen and Sox9 were expressed in all groups except the non-induced BMSC-PGA/PLA group. At 4 weeks post-implantation, cartilage formation was achieved in the induced BMSC-ACS group and partial cartilage formation was achieved in the non-induced BMSC-ACS group, confirmed by safranin O staining, toluidine blue staining and type II collagen immunostaining. In addition, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay demonstrated the presence of transforming growth factor-β1, insulin-like growth factor-1 and bone morphogenic protein-2 in ACSs. These results indicate that ACSs possess a chondrogenic induction activity that promotes BMSC differentiation.

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