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Open Access Enhanced Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Low Oxygen Environment Micropellet Cultures

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Chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is typically induced when they are condensed into a single aggregate and exposed to transforming growth factor- (TGF-). Hypoxia, like aggregation and TGF- delivery, may be crucial for complete chondrogenesis. However, the pellet dimensions and associated self-induced oxygen gradients of current chondrogenic methods may limit the effectiveness of in vitro differentiation and subsequent therapeutic uses. Here we describe the use of embryoid body-forming technology to produce microscopic aggregates of human bone marrow MSCs (BM-MSCs) for chondrogenesis. The use of micropellets reduces the formation of gradients within the aggregates, resulting in a more homogeneous and controlled microenvironment. These micropellet cultures (∼170 cells/micropellet) as well as conventional pellet cultures (∼2 × 105 cells/pellet) were chondrogenically induced under 20% and 2% oxygen environments for 14 days. Compared to conventional pellets under both environments, micropellets differentiated under 2% O2 showed significantly increased sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) production and more homogeneous distribution of proteoglycans and collagen II. Aggrecan and collagen II gene expressions were increased in pellet cultures differentiated under 2% O2 relative to 20% O2 pellets but 2% O2 micropellets showed even greater increases in these genes, as well as increased SOX9. These results suggest a more advanced stage of chondrogenesis in the micropellets accompanied by more homogeneous differentiation. Thus, we present a new method for enhancing MSC chondrogenesis that reveals a unique relationship between oxygen tension and aggregate size. The inherent advantages of chondrogenic micropellets over a single macroscopic aggregate should allow for easy integration with a variety of cartilage engineering strategies.

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Keywords: Bone marrow; Cartilage regeneration; Chondrogenesis; Extracellular matrix; Hypoxia; Mesenchymal stem cells

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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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.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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