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Plasticity of Human Meniscus Fibrochondrocytes: A Study on Effects of Mitotic Divisions and Oxygen Tension.


Meniscus fibrochondrocytes (MFCs) may be the optimal cell source to repair non-healing meniscus injuries using tissue engineering strategies. In this study, we investigated the effects of mitotic divisions and oxygen tension on the plasticity of adult human MFCs. Our assessment techniques included gene expression, biochemical, histological, and immunofluorescence assays. MFCs were expanded in monolayer culture with combined growth factors TGFβ1 and FGF-2 (T1F2) under normoxia (21% O2). Trilineage (adipogenesis, chondrogenesis and osteogenesis) differentiation was performed under both normoxic (21% O2) and hypoxic (3% O2) conditions. The data demonstrated that MFCs with a mean total population doubling of 10 can undergo adipogenesis and chondrogenesis. This capability was enhanced under hypoxic conditions. The MFCs did not undergo osteogenesis. In conclusion, our findings suggest that extensively expanded human MFCs have the capacity to generate tissues with the functional matrix characteristics of avascular meniscus. To this end, expanded MFCs may be an ideal cell source for engineering functional constructs for the replacement or repair of avascular meniscus.