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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2013 Dec;101(12):3592-8. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34647. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Quantitative characterization of mesenchymal stem cell adhesion to the articular cartilage surface.

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Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.


There has been great interest in use of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based therapies for cartilage repair. Most recently, treatments involving intra-articular injection of MSCs have shown great promise for cartilage repair and arthritis therapy, which rely on MSC adhesion to cartilage. While there is some information on chondrocyte adhesion to cartilage, there is relatively little known about the kinetics and strength of MSC adhesion to cartilage. The goals of this study were as follows: (1) to quantify the kinetics and strength of adhesion of marrow-derived MSCs to articular cartilage using standard laboratory hardware; (2) to compare this adhesion behavior to that of articular chondrocytes; and (3) to assess the effect of serial monolayer culture on MSC adhesion. First through fourth passage MSCs and primary articular chondrocytes were allowed to adhere to the articular surface of cartilage disks for up to 30 h and the number of adhered cells was recorded to quantify adhesion kinetics. After 30 h, adherent cells were subjected to centrifugal shear to determine adhesion strength, quantified as the shear necessary to detach half the adhered cells (σ50 ). The number of adhered MSCs and adhesion strength increased with passage number and MSCs adhered more strongly than did primary articular chondrocytes. As such, the kinetics and strength of MSC adhesion to cartilage is not dramatically lower than that for articular chondrocytes. This protocol for assessing cell adhesion to cartilage is simple to implement and may represent an important screening tool for assessing the efficacy of cell-based therapies for cartilage repair.


MSC; adhesion; articular cartilage; cartilage repair; tissue engineering

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