Articular cartilage has a limited capacity for self-repair. To overcome this problem, it is expected that functional cartilage replacements can be created from expanded chondrocytes seeded in biodegradable scaffolds. Expansion of chondrocytes in two-dimensional culture systems often results in dedifferentiation. This investigation focuses on the post-expansion phenotype of human nasal chondrocytes expanded on macroporous gelatin CultiSpher G microcarriers. Redifferentiation was evaluated in vitro via pellet cultures in three different culture media. Furthermore, the chondrogenic potential of expanded cells seeded in polyethylene glycol terephthalate/ polybuthylene terephthalate (PEGT/PBT) scaffolds, cultured for 14 days in vitro, and subsequently implanted subcutaneously in nude mice, was assessed. Chondrocytes remained viable during microcarrier culture and yielded doubling times (1.07±0.14 days) comparable to T-flask expansion (1.20±0.36 days). Safranin-O staining from pellet culture in different media demonstrated that production of GAG per cell was enhanced by microcarrier expansion. Chondrocyte–polymer constructs with cells expanded on microcarriers contained significantly more proteoglycans after subcutaneous implantation (288.5±29.2 μg) than those with T-flask-expanded cells (164.0±28.7 μg). Total collagen content was similar between the two groups. This study suggests that macroporous gelatin microcarriers are effective matrices for nasal chondrocyte expansion, while maintaining the ability of chondrocyte differentiation. Although the exact mechanism by which chondrocyte redifferentiation is induced through microcarrier expansion has not yet been elucidated, this technique shows promise for cartilage tissue engineering approaches.
- Tissue Engineering
- Polyethylene glycol terephthalate/polybuthylene terephthalate (PEGT/PBT)
- Nasal chondrocytes
- Macroporous microcarriers