The primordium of a biological joint replacement: Coupling of two stem cell pathways in biphasic ultrasound compressed gel niches
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The impaired temporomandibular joint might be the first to benefit from applied tissue engineering techniques because it is small and tissue growth in larger amounts is challenging. Bone and cartilage require different competing environmental conditions to be cultivated in vitro. But coupling both the osteogenic and cartilaginous pathways of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation in homeostasis will be a key essential to grow osteochondral constructs or even the first biological joint replacement in the future.
The aim of this study was to test a single source biomaterial and a single source cell type to engineer a biphasic osteochondral construct in vitro for future in vivo implantation. Ultrarapid tissue engineering techniques were used to create the biphasic matrix and primary human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) preconditioned in osteogenic and chondrogenic media were then seeded in opposite portions of the hyper-hydrated collagen gel in order to further substantiate the respective bone-like and cartilage-like layers thus potentially customising the collagen scaffold according to patient needs in regards to future biological joint replacements. After incubation for 7 days to allow cell growth and differentiation, mineralization of the bone-like layer was demonstrated using von Kossa staining and biochemical bone markers. The cartilage-like layer was demonstrated using alcian blue staining and biochemical cartilage markers. Integration of the bone-like and cartilage-like layers to simulate a tidemark layer was achieved through partial setting of the gels. Cell tracking was used to further confirm the establishment of distinct cartilage-like and bone-like areas within the single construct.
This is the first report of one homogeneous human MSC population differentiating into dissimilar “bone-like” and “cartilage-like” zones hosted in a biphasic ultrarapid compressed gel phase niche and mimicking a primordial joint-like structure.
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