Indexed on: 20 Apr '16Published on: 20 Apr '16Published in: Acta Biomaterialia
ECM-based materials are appealing for tissue engineering strategies because they may promote stem cell recruitment, cell infiltration, and cell differentiation without the need to supplement with additional biological factors. Cartilage ECM has recently shown potential to be chondroinductive, particularly in a hydrogel-based system, which may be revolutionary in orthopedic medicine. However, hydrogels composed of natural materials are often mechanically inferior to synthetic materials, which is a major limitation for load-bearing tissue applications. The objective was therefore to create an unprecedented hydrogel derived entirely from native cartilage ECM that was both mechanically more similar to native cartilage tissue and capable of inducing chondrogenesis. Porcine cartilage was decellularized, solubilized, and then methacrylated and UV photocrosslinked to create methacrylated solubilized decellularized cartilage (MeSDCC) gels. Methacrylated gelatin (GelMA) was employed as a control for both biomechanics and bioactivity. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells were encapsulated in these networks, which were cultured in vitro for 6weeks, where chondrogenic gene expression, the compressive modulus, swelling, and histology were analyzed. One day after crosslinking, the elastic compressive modulus of the 20% MeSDCC gels was 1070±150kPa. Most notably, the stress strain profile of the 20% MeSDCC gels fell within the 95% confidence interval range of native porcine cartilage. Additionally, MeSDCC gels significantly upregulated chondrogenic genes compared to GelMA as early as day 1 and supported extensive matrix synthesis as observed histologically. Given that these gels approached the mechanics of native cartilage tissue, supported matrix synthesis, and induced chondrogenic gene expression, MeSDCC hydrogels may be promising materials for cartilage tissue engineering applications. Future efforts will focus on improving fracture mechanics as well to benefit overall biomechanical performance.Extracellular matrix (ECM)-based materials are appealing for tissue engineering strategies because they may promote stem cell recruitment, cell infiltration, and cell differentiation without the need to supplement with additional biological factors. One such ECM-based material, cartilage ECM, has recently shown potential to be chondroinductive; however, hydrogels composed of natural materials are often mechanically inferior to synthetic materials, which is a major limitation for load-bearing tissue applications. Therefore, this work is significant because we were the first to create hydrogels derived entirely from cartilage ECM that had mechanical properties similar to that of native cartilage until hydrogel failure. Furthermore, these hydrogels had a compressive modulus of 1070±150kPa, they were chondroinductive, and they supported extensive matrix synthesis. In the current study, we have shown that these new hydrogels may prove to be a promising biomaterial for cartilage tissue engineering applications.