The loss of phenotype in articular chondrocytes expanded in monolayer has been established as a possible contributor to the deficiencies associated with in vitro cartilage engineering and autologous cell transplantation procedures. We cultured zonal articular chondrocytes on tissue culture plastic, collagen II-coated polystyrene, and aggrecan-coated polystyrene in an effort to find a surface that can either prevent or slow the loss of phenotype. In addition, we encapsulated passaged cells in agarose to examine the effect of three-dimensional culture on redifferentiating zonal chondrocytes. We used real-time polymerase chain reaction to measure the relative gene expression levels of collagen I and II, aggrecan, and superficial zone protein over relevant passages (P0-P4). Results showed that tissue culture plastic and the collagen II-coated surface induced rapid loss of phenotype in zonal articular chondrocytes. The aggrecan-coated surface had a less detrimental effect on the chondrocytic phenotype of seeded cells, inducing gene expression characteristics comparable to those of agarose-encapsulated cells. Furthermore, when chondrocytes that had been previously passaged on a collagen II surface were placed on an aggrecan surface, the zonal cells showed a dramatic change in gene expression from fibroblastic to chondrocytic. These results indicate that a culture environment using aggrecan as a substratum or agarose as a scaffold is crucial to the development of phenotypically correct articular cartilage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology