ABSTRACT: Expansion of autologous chondrocytes in vitro is used to generate adequate populations for cell-based therapies. However, standard (SD) culture methods cause loss of chondrocyte phenotype and dedifferentiation to fibroblast-like cells. Here, we use a novel surface expansion culture system in an effort to inhibit chondrocyte dedifferentiation. A highly elastic silicone rubber culture surface was continuously stretched over a 13-day period to 600% of its initial surface area. This maintained cells at a high density while limiting contact inhibition and reducing the need for passaging. Gene expression analysis, biochemical assays, and immunofluorescence microscopy of follow-on pellet cultures were used to characterize the results of continuous expansion (CE) culture versus SD cultures on rigid polystyrene. CE culture yielded cells with a more chondrocyte-like morphology and higher RNA-level expression of the chondrogenic markers collagen type II, aggrecan, and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein. Furthermore, the expression of collagen type I RNA and α-smooth muscle actin protein were significantly reduced, indicating suppression of fibroblastic features. Pellet cultures from CE chondrocytes contained more sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen type II than pellets from SD culture. Additional control cultures on static (unexpanded) silicone (SS culture) indicated that benefits of CE culture were partially due to features of the culture surface itself and partially due to the reduced passaging which that surface enabled through CE. Chondrocytes grown in CE culture may, therefore, be a superior source for cell-based therapies.
Tissue Engineering Part A 06/2012; · 4.64 Impact Factor