Polymer Science Faculty Research

Comparison of different chondrocytes for use in tissue engineering of cartilage model structures

William Landis, The University of Akron


This study compares bovine chondrocytes harvested from four different animal locations--nasoseptal, articular, costal, and auricular--for tissue-engineered cartilage modeling. While the work serves as a preliminary investigation for fabricating a human ear model, the results are important to tissue- engineered cartilage in general. Chondrocytes were cultured and examined to determine relative cell proliferation rates, type II collagen and aggrecan gene expression, and extracellular matrix production. Respective chondrocytes were then seeded onto biodegradable poly(L-lactide-epsilon-caprolactone) disc-shaped scaffolds. Cell-copolymer constructs were cultured and subsequently implanted in the subcutaneous space of athymic mice for up to 20 weeks. Neocartilage development in harvested constructs was assessed by molecular and histological means. Cell culture followed over periods of up to 4 weeks showed chondrocyte proliferation from the tissue sources varied, as did levels of type II collagen and aggrecan gene expression. For both genes, highest expression was found for costal chondrocytes, followed by nasoseptal, articular, and auricular cells. Retrieval of 20-week discs from mice revealed changes in construct dimensions with different chondrocytes. Greatest disc diameter was found for scaffolds seeded with auricular chondrocytes, followed by those with costal, nasoseptal, and articular cells. Greatest disc thickness was measured for scaffolds containing costal chondrocytes, followed by those with nasoseptal, auricular, and articular cells. Retrieved copolymer alone was smallest in diameter and thickness. Only auricular scaffolds developed elastic fibers after 20 weeks of implantation. Type II collagen and aggrecan were detected with differing expression levels on quantitative RT-PCR of discs implanted for 20 weeks. These data demonstrate that bovine chondrocytes obtained from different cartilaginous sites in an animal may elicit distinct responses during their respective development of a tissue-engineered neocartilage. Thus, each chondrocyte type establishes or maintains its particular developmental characteristics, and this observation is critical in the design and elaboration of any tissue-engineered cartilage model.