Indexed on: 09 Jan '16Published on: 09 Jan '16Published in: Annals of Biomedical Engineering
Hydrogel precursors are liquid solutions that are prone to leaking from the defect site once implanted in vivo. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to create a hydrogel precursor that exhibited a yield stress. Additionally, devitalized cartilage extracellular matrix (DVC) was mixed with DVC that had been solubilized and methacrylated (MeSDVC) to create hydrogels that were chondroinductive. Precursors composed of 10% MeSDVC or 10% MeSDVC with 10% DVC were first evaluated rheologically, where non-Newtonian behavior was observed in all hydrogel precursors. Rat bone marrow stem cells (rBMSCs) were mixed in the precursor solutions, and the solutions were then crosslinked and cultured in vitro for 6 weeks with and without exposure to human transforming growth factor β3 (TGF-β3). The compressive modulus, gene expression, biochemical content, swelling, and histology of the gels were analyzed. The DVC-containing gels consistently outperformed the MeSDVC-only group in chondrogenic gene expression, especially at 6 weeks, where the relative collagen II expression of the DVC-containing groups with and without TGF-β3 exposure was 40- and 78-fold higher, respectively, than that of MeSDVC alone. Future work will test for chondrogenesis in vivo and overall, these two cartilage-derived components are promising materials for cartilage tissue engineering applications.