From Chondrocytes to Chondrons, Maintenance of Phenotype and Matrix Production in a Composite 3D Hydrogel Scaffold




Amr, Mahmoud
Mallah, Alia
Yasmeen, Samina
Van Wie, Bernard
Gozen, Arda
Mendenhall, Juana
Abu-Lail, Nehal I.

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease characterized by articular cartilage (AC) degradation that affects more than 30 million people in the USA. OA is managed with symptom-alleviating medications. Matrix-assisted autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT) is a tissue-engineered option, but current products are expensive and lack mechanical tunability or processability to match defect mechanical properties and anatomical shapes. Here, we explore the efficacy of a biocompatible hydrogel-based scaffold composed of sodium alginate, gelatin, and gum Arabic—referred to by SA–GEL–GA—to support bovine articular chondrocyte (bAChs) proliferation, pericellular matrix (PCM), and extracellular matrix (ECM) production. bAChs were grown for 45 days in SA–GEL–GA. Their viability, their live/dead status, histological staining, biochemical assays for glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and collagen, atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging, and immunofluorescence staining of collagen I, collagen II, aggrecan, and CD44 were assessed. We found that SA–GEL–GA was not cytotoxic, induced cellular proliferation by 6.1-fold while maintaining a round morphology, and supported ECM deposition by producing 3.9-fold more GAG compared to day 0. bAChs transformed into chondrons and produced a PCM enriched with collagen II (3.4-fold), aggrecan (1.7-fold), and CD44 (1.3-fold) compared to day 0. In summary, SA–GEL–GA supported the proliferation, ECM production, and PCM production of bAChs in vitro.



articular cartilage, biomaterials, chondrons, hydrogels, osteoarthritis, tissue engineering


Gels 8 (2): 90 (2022)


Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering