Hydrogel-mediated formation of living cartilage template for endochondral initiation
Lau, Ting Ting
Neo, Jing Rui Evelyn
Date of Issue2013
School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
The use of hydrogel in cartilage tissue engineering is especially popular due to its high hydrophilic property which is similar to native cartilage matrix. Alginate hydrogel was used as a transient scaffold material to facilitate chondrocyte proliferation into a three-dimensional scaffold-free living hyaline cartilaginous graft (LhCG). As LhCG is purely cell-based and has a marked resemblance to native hyaline cartilage, it served as an excellent in vitro platform for studying the endochondral ossification pathway. Due to the complexity of events involved throughout endochondral ossification, this study only focuses on early stages of the process where it involves chondrocyte hypertrophy and blood vessel invasion. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were selected as the target cells for possible endothelialization in the LhCG template. They were seeded onto the LhCG construct and subjected to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatment. Results suggested that VEGF is indeed a potent driving force for initiation of the endochondral pathway. It alone is sufficient to induce hypertrophy in chondrocytes and the corresponding expression of osteogenic genes with or without the presence of HUVECs in the LhCG template. On the other hand, the effect of HUVECs in the LhCG system was less evident. It is hypothesized that this is attributed to the preservation of anti-angiogenic properties in primary chondrocytes from the LhCG construct, inhibiting HUVECs from endothelialization in the LhCG+HUVEC construct. Based on the outcome from this study, it is recommended that hypertrophy in chondrocytes should be induced prior to endothelial cell introduction so that the microenvironment will be altered to favor angiogenesis within the cartilaginous template.
© 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.