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Infrapatellar fat pad-derived stem cells maintain their chondrogenic capacity in disease and can be used to engineer cartilaginous grafts of clinically relevant dimensions.

Tissue engineering. Part A (2014-05-03)
Yurong Liu, Conor Timothy Buckley, Henrique V Almeida, Kevin J Mulhall, Daniel John Kelly
ABSTRACT

A therapy for regenerating large cartilaginous lesions within the articular surface of osteoarthritic joints remains elusive. While tissue engineering strategies such as matrix-assisted autologous chondrocyte implantation can be used in the repair of focal cartilage defects, extending such approaches to the treatment of osteoarthritis will require a number of scientific and technical challenges to be overcome. These include the identification of an abundant source of chondroprogenitor cells that maintain their chondrogenic capacity in disease, as well as the development of novel approaches to engineer scalable cartilaginous grafts that could be used to resurface large areas of damaged joints. In this study, it is first demonstrated that infrapatellar fat pad-derived stem cells (FPSCs) isolated from osteoarthritic (OA) donors possess a comparable chondrogenic capacity to FPSCs isolated from patients undergoing ligament reconstruction. In a further validation of their functionality, we also demonstrate that FPSCs from OA donors respond to the application of physiological levels of cyclic hydrostatic pressure by increasing aggrecan gene expression and the production of sulfated glycosaminoglycans. We next explored whether cartilaginous grafts could be engineered with diseased human FPSCs using a self-assembly or scaffold-free approach. After examining a range of culture conditions, it was found that continuous supplementation with both transforming growth factor-β3 (TGF-β3) and bone morphogenic protein-6 (BMP-6) promoted the development of tissues rich in proteoglycans and type II collagen. The final phase of the study sought to scale-up this approach to engineer cartilaginous grafts of clinically relevant dimensions (≥2 cm in diameter) by assembling FPSCs onto electrospun PLLA fiber membranes. Over 6 weeks in culture, it was possible to generate robust, flexible cartilage-like grafts of scale, opening up the possibility that tissues engineered using FPSCs derived from OA patients could potentially be used to resurface large areas of joint surfaces damaged by trauma or disease.

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