Label-free Raman monitoring of extracellular matrix formation in three-dimensional polymeric scaffolds

A. Kunstar, Anne Marijke Leferink, P.I. Okagbare, M.D. Morris, B.J. Roessler, Cornelis Otto, Hermanus Bernardus Johannes Karperien, Clemens van Blitterswijk, Lorenzo Moroni, Aart A. van Apeldoorn

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Monitoring extracellular matrix (ECM) components is one of the key methods used to determine tissue quality in three-dimensional scaffolds for regenerative medicine and clinical purposes. Raman spectroscopy can be used for non-invasive sensing of cellular and ECM biochemistry. We have investigated the use of conventional (confocal and semiconfocal) Raman microspectroscopy and fibre-optic Raman spectroscopy for in vitro monitoring of ECM formation in three-dimensional poly(ethylene oxide terephthalate)–poly(butylene terephthalate) (PEOT/PBT) scaffolds. Chondrocyte-seeded PEOT/PBT scaffolds were analysed for ECM formation by Raman microspectroscopy, biochemical analysis, histology and scanning electron microscopy. ECM deposition in these scaffolds was successfully detected by biochemical and histological analysis and by label-free non-destructive Raman microspectroscopy. In the spectra collected by the conventional Raman set-ups, the Raman bands at 937 and at 1062 cm−1 which, respectively, correspond to collagen and sulfated glycosaminoglycans could be used as Raman markers for ECM formation in scaffolds. Collagen synthesis was found to be different in single chondrocyte-seeded scaffolds when compared with microaggregate-seeded samples. Normalized band-area ratios for collagen content of single cell-seeded samples gradually decreased during a 21-day culture period, whereas collagen content of the microaggregate-seeded samples significantly increased during this period. Moreover, a fibre-optic Raman set-up allowed for the collection of Raman spectra from multiple pores inside scaffolds in parallel. These fibre-optic measurements could give a representative average of the ECM Raman signal present in tissue-engineered constructs. Results in this study provide proof-of-principle that Raman microspectroscopy is a promising non-invasive tool to monitor ECM production and remodelling in three-dimensional porous cartilage tissue-engineered constructs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130464
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Royal Society. Interface
Issue number86
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • METIS-296795
  • IR-86404


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