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Open Access Hypoxic Conditions During Expansion Culture Prime Human Mesenchymal Stromal Precursor Cells for Chondrogenic Differentiation in Three-Dimensional Cultures

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Cell-based approaches using mesenchymal stromal precursor cells (MSCs) for the regeneration of intervertebral discs are attracting increased interest, even though the intervertebral disc is a very demanding environment. Implanted cells eventually face acidic pH, hypoxia, and a lack of nutrients. While the regenerative potential of MSCs for skeletal tissues has been well described, it is still questionable whether human MSCs can be prepared for prolonged survival and proper functioning and whether they can differentiate under the adverse conditions encountered in the disc. Here we examined the influence of hypoxia during expansion and differentiation on the chondrogenesis of MSCs. Chondrogenic differentiation was performed in in situ solidifying gelatin hydrogels, which represent a suitable matrix for delivering and anchoring cells within the disc tissue. To consider limitations in nutrition in the intervertebral disc, differentiation was performed at low cell concentrations in the gelatin hydrogels. Standard high-density micromass cultures served as reference controls. To determine the quality of chondrogenesis we analyzed typical marker molecules such as collagen types I, II, X, Sox-9, MIA, and aggrecan mRNA using RT-qPCR and determined protein deposition by histological stainings and biochemical methods. We could demonstrate that in gelatin-based hydrogels chondrogenic differentiation of human MSCs is possible at low cell concentrations. The quality of chondrogenic differentiation could be improved by hypoxia. Best results were obtained when the entire in vitro process, including MSC expansion and subsequent differentiation, was done under hypoxic conditions. MSCs that were expanded under reduced oxygen tension were primed for a chondrogenic differentiation.

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Keywords: Chondrogenic differentiation; Gelatin hydrogel; Hypoxia; Intervertebral disc; Mesenchymal stromal precursor cell

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute, University of Tübingen, Reutlingen, Germany

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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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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