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J Biomech. 2013 Oct 18;46(15):2674-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.07.043. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

Applied osmotic loading for promoting development of engineered cartilage.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


This study investigated the potential use of static osmotic loading as a cartilage tissue engineering strategy for growing clinically relevant grafts from either synovium-derived stem cells (SDSCs) or chondrocytes. Bovine SDSCs and chondrocytes were individually encapsulated in 2% w/v agarose and divided into chondrogenic media of osmolarities 300 (hypotonic), 330 (isotonic), and 400 (hypertonic, physiologic) mOsM for up to 7 weeks. The application of hypertonic media to constructs comprised of SDSCs or chondrocytes led to increased mechanical properties as compared to hypotonic (300mOsM) or isotonic (330mOsM) media (p<0.05). Constant exposure of SDSC-seeded constructs to 400mOsM media from day 0 to day 49 yielded a Young's modulus of 513±89kPa and GAG content of 7.39±0.52%ww on day 49, well within the range of values of native, immature bovine cartilage. Primary chondrocyte-seeded constructs achieved almost as high a Young's modulus, reaching 487±187kPa and 6.77±0.54%ww (GAG) for the 400mOsM condition (day 42). These findings suggest hypertonic loading as a straightforward strategy for 3D cultivation with significant benefits for cartilage tissue engineering strategies. In an effort to understand potential mechanisms responsible for the observed response, cell volume measurements in response to varying osmotic conditions were evaluated in relation to the Boyle-van't Hoff (BVH) law. Results confirmed that chondrocytes behave as perfect osmometers; however SDSCs deviated from the BVH relation.


Cartilage; Chondrocytes; Static osmotic loading; Synovium-derived stem cells; Tissue engineering

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