The quality of articular cartilage engineered using a cell-polymer construct depends, in part, on the chemical composition of the biomaterial and whether that biomaterial can support the chondrocytic phenotype. Acknowledging the supportive influence of tissue-specific matrix molecules on the chondrocytic phenotype, we have combined chondroitin sulfate-A (CSA) and chitosan, a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) analog, to develop a novel biomaterial to support chondrogenesis. Chitosan is a polycationic repeating monosaccharide of beta-1,4-linked glucosamine monomers with randomly located N-acetyl glucosamine units. Chitosan may be combined with the polyanionic CSA such that ionic crosslinking results in hydrogel formation. Bovine primary articular chondrocytes, when seeded onto a thin layer of CSA-chitosan, form discrete, focal adhesions to the material and maintain many characteristics of the differentiated chondrocytic phenotype, including round morphology, limited mitosis, collagen type II, and proteoglycan production. Our findings suggest CSA-chitosan may be well suited as a carrier material for the transplant of autologous chondrocytes or as a scaffold for the tissue engineering of cartilage-like tissue.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.