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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39339. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039339. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Oxygen tension is a determinant of the matrix-forming phenotype of cultured human meniscal fibrochondrocytes.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. adesida@ualberta.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Meniscal cartilage displays a poor repair capacity, especially when injury is located in the avascular region of the tissue. Cell-based tissue engineering strategies to generate functional meniscus substitutes is a promising approach to treat meniscus injuries. Meniscus fibrochondrocytes (MFC) can be used in this approach. However, MFC are unable to retain their phenotype when expanded in culture. In this study, we explored the effect of oxygen tension on MFC expansion and on their matrix-forming phenotype.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

MFC were isolated from human menisci followed by basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) mediated cell expansion in monolayer culture under normoxia (21%O(2)) or hypoxia (3%O(2)). Normoxia and hypoxia expanded MFC were seeded on to a collagen scaffold. The MFC seeded scaffolds (constructs) were cultured in a serum free chondrogenic medium for 3 weeks under normoxia and hypoxia. Constructs containing normoxia-expanded MFC were subsequently cultured under normoxia while those formed from hypoxia-expanded MFC were subsequently cultured under hypoxia. After 3 weeks of in vitro culture, the constructs were assessed biochemically, histologically and for gene expression via real-time reverse transcription-PCR assays. The results showed that constructs under normoxia produced a matrix with enhanced mRNA ratio (3.5-fold higher; p<0.001) of collagen type II to I. This was confirmed by enhanced deposition of collagen II using immuno-histochemistry. Furthermore, the constructs under hypoxia produced a matrix with higher mRNA ratio of aggrecan to versican (3.5-fold, p<0.05). However, both constructs had the same capacity to produce a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) -specific extracellular matrix.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our data provide evidence that oxygen tension is a key player in determining the matrix phenotype of cultured MFC. These findings suggest that the use of normal and low oxygen tension during MFC expansion and subsequent neo-tissue formation cultures may be important in engineering different regions of the meniscus.

PMID:
22720095
PMCID:
PMC3376130
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0039339
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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