Collagen content and tensile properties of engineered articular cartilage have remained inferior to glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content and compressive properties. Based on a cartilage explant study showing greater tensile properties after chondroitinase ABC (C-ABC) treatment, C-ABC as a strategy for cartilage tissue engineering was investigated. A scaffold-less approach was employed, wherein chondrocytes were seeded into non-adherent agarose molds. C-ABC was used to deplete GAG from constructs 2 weeks after initiating culture, followed by 2 weeks culture post-treatment. Staining for GAG and type I, II, and VI collagen and transmission electron microscopy were performed. Additionally, quantitative total collagen, type I and II collagen, and sulfated GAG content were measured, and compressive and tensile mechanical properties were evaluated. At 4 wks, C-ABC treated construct ultimate tensile strength and tensile modulus increased 121% and 80% compared to untreated controls, reaching 0.5 and 1.3 MPa, respectively. These increases were accompanied by increased type II collagen concentration, without type I collagen. As GAG returned, compressive stiffness of C-ABC treated constructs recovered to be greater than 2 wk controls. C-ABC represents a novel method for engineering functional articular cartilage by departing from conventional anabolic approaches. These results may be applicable to other GAG-producing tissues functioning in a tensile capacity, such as the musculoskeletal fibrocartilages.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering