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Novel electrospun scaffolds for the molecular analysis of chondrocytes under dynamic compression.

Tissue engineering. Part A (2008-08-13)
Jin Nam, Bjoern Rath, Thomas J Knobloch, John J Lannutti, Sudha Agarwal
ABSTRACT

Mechanical training of engineered tissue constructs is believed necessary to improve regeneration of cartilaginous grafts. Nevertheless, molecular mechanisms underlying mechanical activation are not clear. This is partly due to unavailability of appropriate scaffolds allowing exposure of cells to dynamic compressive strains (DCS) in vitro while permitting subsequent molecular analyses. We demonstrate that three-dimensional macroporous electrospun poly(epsilon-caprolactone) scaffolds can be fabricated that are suitable for the functional and molecular analysis of dynamically loaded chondrocytes. These scaffolds encourage chondrocytic proliferation promoting expression of collagen type II, aggrecan, and Sox9 while retaining mechanical strength after prolonged dynamic compression. Further, they exhibit superior infiltration of exogenous agents into the cells and permit easy retrieval of cellular components postcompression to allow exploration of molecular mechanisms of DCS. Using these scaffolds, we observed that chondrocytes responded to DCS in a magnitude-dependent manner exhibiting antiinflammatory and proanabolic responses at low physiological magnitudes. Proinflammatory responses and decreased cellular viability were observed at hyperphysiological magnitudes. These scaffolds provide a means of unraveling the mechanotransduction-induced transcriptional and posttranslational activities involved in cartilage regeneration and repair.