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Bone Res. 2016 Feb 3;4:15036. doi: 10.1038/boneres.2015.36. eCollection 2016.

Crosstalk between adipose-derived stem cells and chondrocytes: when growth factors matter.

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State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, West China Hospital of Stomatology, Sichuan University , Chengdu 610041, China.
Institute of Stomatology, General Hospital of Chinese PLA , Beijing 100853, China.


Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) and mesenchymal stem cells are promising for tissue repair because of their multilineage differentiation capacity. Our previous data confirmed that the implantation of mixed ASCs and chondrocytes into cartilage defects induced desirable in vivo healing outcomes. However, the paracrine action of ASCs on chondrocytes needs to be further elucidated. In this study, we established a co-culture system to achieve cell-to-cell and cell-to-tissue crosstalk and explored the soluble growth factors in both ASCs and chondrocytes supplemented with 1% fetal bovine serum to mimic the physiological microenvironment. In ASCs, we screened for growth factors by semi-quantitative PCR and quantitative real-time PCR and found that the expression of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2), vascular endothelial growth factor B (VEGFB), hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), and transforming growth factor-β1 significantly increased after co-culture in comparison with mono-culture. In chondrocytes, VEGFA was significantly enhanced after co-culture. Unexpectedly, the expression of collagen II and aggrecan was significantly down-regulated in the co-culture group compared with the mono-culture group. Meanwhile, among all the growth factors screened, we found that the BMP family members BMP-2, BMP-4, and BMP-5 were down-regulated and that VEGFB, HIF-1α, FGF-2, and PDGF were significantly decreased after co-culture. These results suggest that crosstalk between ASCs and chondrocytes is a pathway through the regulated growth factors that might have potential in cartilage repair and regeneration and could be useful for tissue engineering.

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