Mechanical loading on articular cartilage induces various mechanical stresses and strains. In vitro hydrodynamic forces such as compression, shear and tension impact various cellular properties including chondrogenic differentiation, leading us to hypothesize that shaking culture might affect the chondrogenic induction of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) constructs. Three-dimensional mouse iPSC constructs were fabricated in a day using U-bottom 96-well plates, and were subjected to preliminary chondrogenic induction for 3 days in static condition, followed by chondrogenic induction culture using a see-saw shaker for 17 days. After 21 days, chondrogenically induced iPSC (CI-iPSC) constructs contained chondrocyte-like cells with abundant ECM components. Shaking culture significantly promoted cell aggregation, and induced significantly higher expression of chondrogenic-related marker genes than static culture at day 21. Immunohistochemical analysis also revealed higher chondrogenic protein expression. Furthemore, in the shaking groups, CI-iPSCs showed upregulation of TGF-β and Wnt signaling-related genes, which are known to play an important role in regulating cartilage development. These results suggest that shaking culture activates TGF-β expression and Wnt signaling to promote chondrogenic differentiation in mouse iPSCs in vitro. Shaking culture, a simple and convenient approach, could provide a promising strategy for iPSC-based cartilage bioengineering for study of disease mechanisms and new therapies.
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