Introduction: Cartilage regeneration have been attracted attentions because of the poor ability of cartilage tissues to regenerate. Three-dimensional (3D) culture of chondrocytes is considered to be advantageous for cartilage regeneration. Although it is plausible that maturation of the constructs before transplantation positively affects the chondrogenesis, matured constructs after cultures for longer periods do not necessarily result in effective cartilage regeneration. In this study, we compared different types of culture media including growth factors which are clinically available. We prepared differentiation medium containing insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), proliferation medium containing fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) and insulin, and combination of them, and compared their efficacies on chondrogenesis when used in 3D culture of engineered cartilage constructs. Methods: Cartilage constructs were fabricated by auricular chondrocytes and atelocollagen, and they were 3D-cultured with four types of media: control medium, differentiation medium, proliferation medium, and combination medium. After 3 weeks of culture, the constructs were analyzed for cell number, gene and protein expressions and mechanical properties. The constructs were also transplanted into nude mice. After 8 weeks, the degree of cartilage regeneration was evaluated. Constructs manufactured with canine auricular chondrocytes were subjected to autologous transplantation into beagles and examined for cartilage regeneration. Results: During 3D culture, remarkably high gene expression of type II collagen was detected in the construct cultured with the differentiation medium whereas cell apoptosis were suppressed in the proliferation medium. When transplanted into nude mice, the constructs 3D-cultured in the proliferation medium produced abundant cartilage matrices. In autologous implantation model, the construct cultured in the proliferation medium again showed better chondrogenesis than those in other media. Conclusions: The present study indicates that 3D culture with the proliferation medium maintains the cell viability to potentiate the subsequent cartilage regeneration. Here, we propose that not only differentiation but also high cell viability accompanied by proliferation factors should be taken into account to improve cartilage regeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas