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Expansion of Bovine Chondrocytes on Microcarriers Enhances Redifferentiation

Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
  • Engineering
  • Medicine


Functional cartilage implants for orthopedic surgery or in vitro tissue evaluation can be created from expanded chondrocytes and biodegradable scaffolds. Expansion of chondrocytes in two-dimensional culture systems results in their dedifferentiation. The hallmark of this process is the switch of collagen synthesis from type II to type I. The aim of this study was to evaluate the postexpansion chondrogenic potential of microcarrier-expanded bovine articular chondrocytes in pellet cultures. A selection of microcarriers was screened for initial attachment of chondrocytes. On the basis of those results and additional selection criteria related to clinical application, Cytodex-1 microcarriers were selected for further investigation. Comparable doubling times were obtained in T-flask and microcarrier cultures. During propagation on Cytodex-1 microcarriers, cells acquired a spherical-like morphology and the presence of collagen type II was detected. Both observations are indicative of a differentiated chondrocyte. Pellet cultures of microcarrier-expanded cells showed cartilage-like morphology and staining for proteoglycans and collagen type II after 14 days. In contrast, pellets of T-flask-expanded cells had a fibrous appearance and showed abundant staining only for collagen type I. Therefore, culture of chondrocytes on microcarriers may offer useful and cost-effective cell expansion opportunities in the field of cartilage tissue engineering.

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