Efficacy of thermoresponsive, photocrosslinkable hydrogels derived from decellularized tendon and cartilage extracellular matrix for cartilage tissue engineering.
ABSTRACT: Tissue engineering using adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a promising approach for cartilage repair, is highly dependent on the nature of the matrix scaffold. Thermoresponsive, photocrosslinkable hydrogels were fabricated by functionalizing pepsin-soluble decellularized tendon and cartilage extracellular matrices (ECM) with methacrylate groups. Methacrylated gelatin hydrogels served as controls. When seeded with human bone marrow MSCs and cultured in chondrogenic medium, methacrylated ECM hydrogels experienced less cell-mediated contraction, as compared against non-methacrylated ECM hydrogels. However, methacrylation slowed or diminished chondrogenic differentiation of seeded MSCs, as determined through analyses of gene expression, biochemical composition and histology. In particular, methacrylated cartilage hydrogels supported minimal due to chondrogenesis over 42 weeks, as hydrogel disintegration beginning at day 14 presumably compromised cell-matrix interactions. As compared against methacrylated gelatin hydrogels, MSCs cultured in non-methacrylated ECM hydrogels exhibited comparable expression of chondrogenic genes (Sox9, Aggrecan and collagen type II) but increased collagen type I expression. Non-methacrylated cartilage hydrogels did not promote chondrogenesis to a greater extent than either non-methacrylated or methacrylated tendon hydrogels. Whereas methacrylated gelatin hydrogels supported relatively homogeneous increases in proteoglycan and collagen type II deposition throughout the construct over 42 days, ECM hydrogels possessed greater heterogeneity of staining intensity and construct morphology. These results do not support the utility of pepsin-solubilized cartilage and tendon hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering over methacrylated gelatin hydrogels. Methacrylation of tendon and cartilage ECM hydrogels permits thermal- and light-induced polymerization but compromises chondrogenic differentiation of seeded MSCs.
Project description:Biological scaffolds composed of tissue-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) can promote homologous (i.e., tissue-specific) cell differentiation through preservation of biophysical and biochemical motifs found in native tissues. Solubilized ECMs derived from decellularized tendon and cartilage have recently been promoted as tissue-specific biomaterials, but whether tissue-specific bioactivity is preserved following solubilization is unknown. This study explored the tissue-specific bioactivity of soluble decellularized tendon and cartilage ECMs on human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) presented across different culture microenvironments, including two-dimensional (2D) tissue culture plastic, aligned electrospun nanofibers, cell pellets, and cell-seeded photocrosslinkable hydrogels.Tendon and cartilage ECMs were decellularized using established methods and solubilized either via pepsin digestion or urea extraction. The effect of soluble ECMs on cell proliferation and differentiation was initially explored by supplementing basal medium of human MSCs cultured on 2D tissue culture plastic. In subsequent experiments, MSCs were cultured on aligned electrospun nanofibers, ascell pellets, or encapsulated within photocrosslinkable methacrylated gelatin (GelMA) hydrogels. Urea-extracted tendon and cartilage ECMs were added as supplements.Pepsin-digested ECMs did not promote homologous differentiation in human MSCs, whether provided as a medium supplement or three-dimensional (3D) hydrogels. In contrast, urea-extracted ECMs tended to promote tissue-specific differentiation of MSCs cultured in 2D and 3D microenvironments. The application of the small molecule TGF-? signaling inhibitor SB-431542 largely negated the tissue-specific gene expression patterns mediated by tendon and cartilage ECMs. This suggests that the action of endogenous TGF-? was required, but was not sufficient, to impart tissue-specific bioactivity of urea-extracted ECMs. When urea-extracted cartilage ECM was incorporated within a photocurable GelMA hydrogel it independently enhanced chondrogenesis in encapsulated MSCs, and showed additive prochondrogenesis upon TGF-? supplementation in the medium.Urea-extracted ECM fractions of decellularized tendon and cartilage are soluble supplements capable of enhancing tissue-specific differentiation of adult stem cells.
Project description:Decellularized tissues have proven to be versatile matrices for the engineering of tissues and organs. These matrices usually consist of collagens, matrix-specific proteins, and a set of largely undefined growth factors and signaling molecules. Although several decellularized tissues have found their way to clinical applications, their use in the engineering of cartilage tissue has only been explored to a limited extent. We set out to generate hydrogels from several tissue-derived matrices, as hydrogels are the current preferred cell carriers for cartilage repair. Equine cartilage, meniscus, and tendon tissue was harvested, decellularized, enzymatically digested, and functionalized with methacrylamide groups. After photo-cross-linking, these tissue digests were mechanically characterized. Next, gelatin methacrylamide (GelMA) hydrogel was functionalized with these methacrylated tissue digests. Equine chondrocytes and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) (both from three donors) were encapsulated and cultured in vitro up to 6 weeks. Gene expression (COL1A1, COL2A1, ACAN, MMP-3, MMP-13, and MMP-14), cartilage-specific matrix formation, and hydrogel stiffness were analyzed after culture. The cartilage, meniscus, and tendon digests were successfully photo-cross-linked into hydrogels. The addition of the tissue-derived matrices to GelMA affected chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs, although no consequent improvement was demonstrated. For chondrocytes, the tissue-derived matrix gels performed worse compared to GelMA alone. This work demonstrates for the first time that native tissues can be processed into crosslinkable hydrogels for the engineering of tissues. Moreover, the differentiation of encapsulated cells can be influenced in these stable, decellularized matrix hydrogels.
Project description:Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) seeded on specific carrier materials are a promising source for the repair of traumatic cartilage injuries. The best supportive carrier material has not yet been determined. As natural components of cartilage's extracellular matrix, hyaluronic acid and collagen are the focus of biomaterial research. In order to optimize chondrogenic support, we investigated three different scaffold compositions of a hyaluronic acid (HA)-gelatin based biomaterial.Human MSCs (hMSCs) were seeded under vacuum on composite scaffolds of three different HA-gelatin ratios and cultured in chondrogenic medium for 21 days. Cell-scaffold constructs were assessed at different time points for cell viability, gene expression patterns, production of cartilage-specific extracellular matrix (ECM) and for (immuno-)histological appearance. The intrinsic transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) uptake of empty scaffolds was evaluated by determination of the TGF-beta concentrations in the medium over time.No significant differences were found for cell seeding densities and cell viability. hMSCs seeded on scaffolds with higher ratios of HA showed better cartilage-like differentiation in all evaluated parameters. TGF-beta uptake did not differ between empty scaffolds.Higher ratios of HA support the chondrogenic differentiation of hMSCs seeded on a HA-gelatin composite scaffold.
Project description:Hydrogels based on triblock copolymers of polyethylene glycol and partially methacrylated poly[N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide mono/dilactate] make up an attractive class of biomaterials because of their biodegradability, cytocompatibility, and tunable thermoresponsive and mechanical properties. If these properties are fine-tuned, the hydrogels can be three-dimensionally bioprinted, to generate, for instance, constructs for cartilage repair. This study investigated whether hydrogels based on the polymer mentioned above with a 10% degree of methacrylation (M10P10) support cartilage formation by chondrocytes and whether the incorporation of methacrylated chondroitin sulfate (CSMA) or methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HAMA) can improve the mechanical properties, long-term stability, and printability. Chondrocyte-laden M10P10 hydrogels were cultured for 42 days to evaluate chondrogenesis. M10P10 hydrogels with or without polysaccharides were evaluated for their mechanical properties (before and after UV photo-cross-linking), degradation kinetics, and printability. Extensive cartilage matrix production occurred in M10P10 hydrogels, highlighting their potential for cartilage repair strategies. The incorporation of polysaccharides increased the storage modulus of polymer mixtures and decreased the degradation kinetics in cross-linked hydrogels. Addition of HAMA to M10P10 hydrogels improved printability and resulted in three-dimensional constructs with excellent cell viability. Hence, this novel combination of M10P10 with HAMA forms an interesting class of hydrogels for cartilage bioprinting.
Project description:Methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels provide a backbone polymer with which mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can interact through several cell surface receptors that are expressed by MSCs, including CD44 and CD168. Previous studies showed that this 3D hydrogel environment supports the chondrogenesis of MSCs, and here we demonstrate through functional blockade that these specific cell-material interactions play a role in this process. Beyond matrix interactions, cadherin molecules, a family of transmembrane glycoproteins, play a critical role in tissue development during embryogenesis, and N-cadherin is a key factor in mediating cell-cell interactions during mesenchymal condensation and chondrogenesis. In this study, we functionalized HA hydrogels with N-cadherin mimetic peptides and evaluated their role in regulating chondrogenesis and cartilage matrix deposition by encapsulated MSCs. Our results show that conjugation of cadherin peptides onto HA hydrogels promotes both early chondrogenesis of MSCs and cartilage-specific matrix production with culture, compared with unmodified controls or those with inclusion of a scrambled peptide domain. This enhanced chondrogenesis was abolished via treatment with N-cadherin-specific antibodies, confirming the contribution of these N-cadherin peptides to chondrogenesis. Subcutaneous implantation of MSC-seeded constructs also showed superior neocartilage formation in implants functionalized with N-cadherin mimetic peptides compared with controls. This study demonstrates the inherent biologic activity of HA-based hydrogels, as well as the promise of biofunctionalizing HA hydrogels to emulate the complexity of the natural cell microenvironment during embryogenesis, particularly in stem cell-based cartilage regeneration.
Project description:Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder affecting millions of people. Most scaffolds developed for cartilage regeneration fail due to vascularization and matrix mineralization. In this study we present a chondrogenic extracellular matrix (ECM) incorporated collagen/chitosan scaffold (chondrogenic ECM scaffold) for potential use in cartilage regenerative therapy. Biochemical characterization showed that these scaffolds possess key pro-chondrogenic ECM components and growth factors. MRI characterization showed that the scaffolds possess mechanical properties and diffusion characteristics important for cartilage tissue regeneration. In vivo implantation of the chondrogenic ECM scaffolds with bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) triggered chondrogenic differentiation of the MSCs without the need for external stimulus. Finally, results from in vivo MRI experiments indicate that the chondrogenic ECM scaffolds are stable and possess MR properties on par with native cartilage. Based on our results, we envision that such ECM incorporated scaffolds have great potential in cartilage regenerative therapy. Additionally, our validation of MR parameters with histology and biochemical analysis indicates the ability of MRI techniques to track the progress of our ECM scaffolds non-invasively in vivo; highlighting the translatory potential of this technology.
Project description:Successful clinical translation of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based therapies for cartilage repair will likely require the implementation of standardised protocols and broadly applicable tools to facilitate the comparisons among cell types and chondroinduction methods. The present study investigated the utility of recombinant lentiviral reporter vectors as reliable tools for comparing chondrogenic potential among primary cell populations and distinguishing cellular-level variations of chondrogenic activity in widely used three-dimensional (3D) culture systems. Primary equine MSCs and chondrocytes were transduced with vectors containing combinations of fluorescent and luciferase reporter genes under constitutive cytomeglavirus (CMV) or chondrocyte-lineage (Col2) promoters. Reporter activity was measured by fluorescence imaging and luciferase assay. In 3D cultures of MSC aggregates and polyethylene glycol-hyaluronic acid (PEG-HA) hydrogels, transforming growth factor beta 3 (TGF-?3)-mediated chondroinduction increased Col2 reporter activity, demonstrating close correlation with histology and mRNA expression levels of COL2A1 and SOX9. Comparison of chondrogenic activities among MSC populations using a secretable luciferase reporter revealed enhanced chondrogenesis in bone-marrow-derived MSCs relative to MSC populations from synovium and adipose tissues. A dual fluorescence reporter - enabling discrimination of highly chondrogenic (Col2-GFP) cells within an MSC population (CMV-tdTomato) - revealed marked heterogeneity in differentiating aggregate cultures and identified chondrogenic cells in chondrocyte-seeded PEG-HA hydrogels after 6 weeks in a subcutaneous implant model - indicating stable, long-term reporter expression in vivo. These results suggested that lentiviral reporter vectors may be used to address fundamental questions regarding chondrogenic activity in chondroprogenitor cell populations and accelerate clinical translation of cell-based cartilage repair strategies.
Project description:Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold promising translational potential in cartilage regeneration. However, the efficacy of MSC-based tissue engineering is not satisfactory in the treatment of cartilage defect because of the inevitable cellular functional changes during ex vivo cell expansion. How to maintain the chondrogenic capacity of MSCs to improve their therapeutic outcomes remains an outstanding question.Bone marrow-derived MSCs were firstly primed in chondrogenic induction medium which was then replaced with normal growth medium to attain the manipulated cells (M-MSCs). Methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA) was synthesized as a scaffold to encapsulate the cells. The MSC- or M-MSC-laden constructs were treated with dynamic compressive loading (DL) in a bioreactor or with free loading (FL) for 14 days. Afterwards, the constructs were implanted in nude mice or rat models of osteochondral defects to test their efficiency in cartilage regeneration or repair.Data showed that the resulting M-MSCs exhibited superior chondrogenic differentiation potential and survivability compared with untreated MSCs. More importantly, we found that DL significantly promoted neocartilage formation in the MeHA hydrogel encapsulated with M-MSCs after 30 days of implantation in nude mice. Furthermore, the constructs laden with M-MSCs after DL for 14 days significantly enhanced cartilage healing in a rat model of osteochondral defect.Findings from this study highlight the importance of maintaining chondrogenic potential of MSCs by in-vitro chondrogenic preconditioning and a synergistic effect of mechanical stimulation in cartilage engineering, which may shed light on the stem cell-based tissue engineering for cartilage repair.
Project description:Hydrogels represent an attractive material platform for realization of three-dimensional (3D) tissue-engineered constructs, as they have tunable mechanical properties, are compatible with different types of cells, and resemble elements found in natural extracellular matrices. So far, numerous hydrogel-cartilage/bone tissue engineering (TE)-related studies were performed by utilizing a single cell encapsulation approach. Although multicellular spheroid cultures exhibit advantageous properties for cartilage or bone TE, the chondrogenic or osteogenic differentiation potential of stem cell microspheroids within hydrogels has not been investigated much. This study explores, for the first time, how stiffness of gelatin-based hydrogels (having a storage modulus of 538, 3584, or 7263 Pa) affects proliferation and differentiation of microspheroids formed from telomerase-immortalized human adipose-derived stem cells (hASC/hTERT). Confocal microscopy indicates that all tested hydrogels supported cell viability during their 3- to 5-week culture period in the control, chondrogenic, or osteogenic medium. Although in the softer hydrogels cells from neighboring microspheroids started outgrowing and interconnecting within a few days, their protrusion was slower or limited in stiffer hydrogels or those cultured in chondrogenic medium, respectively. High expressions of chondrogenic markers (SOX9, ACAN, COL2A1), detected in all tested hydrogels, proved that the chondrogenic differentiation of hASC/hTERT microspheroids was very successful, especially in the two softer hydrogels, where superior cartilage-specific properties were confirmed by Alcian blue staining. These chondrogenically induced samples also expressed COL10A1, a marker of chondrocyte hypertrophy. Interestingly, the hydrogel itself (with no differentiation medium) showed a slight chondrogenic induction. Regardless of the hydrogel stiffness, in the samples stimulated with osteogenic medium, the expression of selected markers RUNX2, BGLAP, ALPL, and COL1A1 was not conclusive. Nevertheless, the von Kossa staining confirmed the presence of calcium deposits in osteogenically stimulated samples in the two softer hydrogels, suggesting that these also favor osteogenesis. This observation was also confirmed by Alizarin red quantification assay, with which higher amounts of calcium were detected in the osteogenically induced hydrogels than in their controls. The presented data indicate that the encapsulation of adipose-derived stem cell microspheroids in gelatin-based hydrogels show promising potential for future applications in cartilage or bone TE. Impact Statement Osteochondral defects represent one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Although numerous tissue engineering (TE) approaches have shown success in cartilage and bone tissue regeneration, achieving native-like characteristics of these tissues remains challenging. This study demonstrates that in the presence of a corresponding differentiation medium, gelatin-based hydrogels support moderate osteogenic and excellent chondrogenic differentiation of photo-encapsulated human adipose-derived stem cell microspheroids, the extent of which depends on hydrogel stiffness. Because photosensitive hydrogels are a convenient material platform for creating stiffness gradients in three dimensions, the presented microspheroid-hydrogel encapsulation strategy holds promise for future strategies of cartilage or bone TE.