Identification of potential biophysical and molecular signalling mechanisms underlying hyaluronic acid enhancement of cartilage formation

Donald J. Responte, Roman M. Natoli, Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This study determined the effects of exogenous hyaluronic acid (HA) on the biomechanical and biochemical properties of self-assembled bovine chondrocytes, and investigated biophysical and genetic mechanisms underlying these effects. The effects of HA commencement time, concentration, application duration and molecular weight were examined using histology, biomechanics and biochemistry. Additionally, the effects of HA application on sulphated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) retention were assessed. To investigate the influence of HA on gene expression, microarray analysis was conducted. HA treatment of developing neocartilage increased compressive stiffness onefold and increased sulphated GAG content by 35 per cent. These effects were dependent on HA molecular weight, concentration and application commencement time. Additionally, applying HA increased sulphated GAG retention within self-assembled neotissue. HA administration also upregulated 503 genes, including multiple genes associated with TGF-β1 signalling. Increased sulphated GAG retention indicated that HA could enhance compressive stiffness by increasing the osmotic pressure that negatively charged GAGs create. The gene expression data demonstrate that HA treatment differentially regulates genes related to TGF-β1 signalling, revealing a potential mechanism for altering matrix composition. These results illustrate the potential use of HA to improve cartilage regeneration efforts and better understand cartilage development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3564-3573
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number77
StatePublished - Dec 7 2012


  • Biomechanics
  • Gene expression
  • Glycosaminoglycan
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Identification of potential biophysical and molecular signalling mechanisms underlying hyaluronic acid enhancement of cartilage formation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this