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In Vitro Evaluation of the Influence of Substrate Mechanics on Matrix-Assisted Human Chondrocyte Transplantation

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The City University of New York–the City College, New York, NY 10031, USA
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J. Funct. Biomater. 2020, 11(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb11010005
Received: 30 November 2019 / Revised: 9 January 2020 / Accepted: 15 January 2020 / Published: 18 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomimetic Materials for Regenerative Medicine)
Matrix-assisted chondrocyte transplantation (MACT) is of great interest for the treatment of patients with cartilage lesions. However, the roles of the matrix properties in modulating cartilage tissue integration during MACT recovery have not been fully understood. The objective of this study was to uncover the effects of substrate mechanics on the integration of implanted chondrocyte-laden hydrogels with native cartilage tissues. To this end, agarose hydrogels with Young’s moduli ranging from 0.49 kPa (0.5%, w/v) to 23.08 kPa (10%) were prepared and incorporated into an in vitro human cartilage explant model. The hydrogel-cartilage composites were cultivated for up to 12 weeks and harvested for evaluation via scanning electron microscopy, histology, and a push-through test. Our results demonstrated that integration strength at the hydrogel-cartilage interface in the 1.0% (0.93 kPa) and 2.5% (3.30 kPa) agarose groups significantly increased over time, whereas hydrogels with higher stiffness (>8.78 kPa) led to poor integration with articular cartilage. Extensive sprouting of extracellular matrix in the interfacial regions was only observed in the 0.5% to 2.5% agarose groups. Collectively, our findings suggest that while neocartilage development and its integration with native cartilage are modulated by substrate elasticity, an optimal Young’s modulus (3.30 kPa) possessed by agarose hydrogels is identified such that superior quality of tissue integration is achieved without compromising tissue properties of implanted constructs. View Full-Text
Keywords: matrix-assisted chondrocyte transplantation; Young’s modulus; cartilage integration; cartilage explant model; human chondrocytes; agarose matrix-assisted chondrocyte transplantation; Young’s modulus; cartilage integration; cartilage explant model; human chondrocytes; agarose
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Yang, Y.-H.K.; Ogando, C.R.; Barabino, G.A. In Vitro Evaluation of the Influence of Substrate Mechanics on Matrix-Assisted Human Chondrocyte Transplantation. J. Funct. Biomater. 2020, 11, 5.

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