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Three-Dimensional Seeding of Chondrocytes Encapsulated in Collagen Gel Into PLLA Scaffolds

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Tissue engineering approaches have been clinically tried to repair damaged articular cartilages. It is an essential step to uniformly seed chondrocytes into 3D scaffolds in order to reconstruct tissue-engineered cartilages in vitro, but the tissue engineering could not have been provided with efficient cell seeding methods. Type I collagen is clinically used and known as a cytocompatible material, having recognition sites for integrins. Collagen gel encapsulating chondrocytes has been tried for making regenerated cartilages, but it is found difficult to have the gel keep its original shape after long-term culture, because of shrinking. On the other hand, 3D scaffolds, either of a nonwoven structure or a sponge-like structure, involve difficulty in that chondrocytes could not be uniformly seeded, although they have adequate initial mechanical properties. In this study, by combining collagen gelation with a nonwoven PLLA scaffold, we achieved uniform cell seeding into the 3D scaffold. Bovine articular chondrocytes were mixed with type I collagen solution, and the solution was poured into the nonwoven PLLA scaffold (1.5 mm thick, φ 15 mm). The collagen–chondrocyte mixture was made into gel at 37°C for 1 h. The 0.39% collagen mixture was viscous enough to prevent cells from precipitating during gelation. Almost all chondrocytes were able to be incorporated into the PLLA scaffolds by mixing with collagen solution and subsequently making into gel, while 30–40% of the chondrocytes seeded as a cell suspension were not trapped into the PLLA scaffolds. The method presented, where chondrocytes were mixed with collagen solution, and the mixture was incorporated into a 3D scaffold, then made into gel in the scaffold, could serve as an alternative for in vitro cartilage regeneration, also simultaneously having the advantages of both materials.

Keywords: Collagen; Gelation; Key words: Chondrocyte; PLLA;

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Bunkyo, 113-8656 Tokyo, Japan

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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