Selective differentiation of mammalian bone marrow stromal cells cultured on three-dimensional polymer foams

J Biomed Mater Res. 2001 May;55(2):229-35. doi: 10.1002/1097-4636(200105)55:2<229::aid-jbm1009>;2-q.


Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) are pluripotent progenitor cells that can regenerate different skeletal tissues in response to environmental signals. In this study, we used highly porous, structurally stable three-dimensional polymer foams in conjunction with specific regulatory molecules to selectively differentiate mammalian BMSC into either cartilaginous or bone-like tissues. Bovine BMSC were expanded in monolayers and cultured on 5-mm-diameter, 2-mm-thick foams made of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) and poly(ethylene glycol). Constructs maintained their original size and shape for up to 4 weeks of culture and supported BMSC growth and production of extracellular matrix (ECM). By proper use of chondrogenic (dexamethasone, insulin, transforming growth factor-beta1) or osteogenic (dexamethasone, beta-glycerophosphate) medium supplements, we could control whether the generated ECM was cartilaginous (containing collagen type II and sulfated glycosaminoglycans) or bone-like (containing osteocalcin, osteonectin, and mineralized foci). After 4 weeks of cultivation, cartilaginous and bone-like ECM were uniformly distributed throughout the construct volume and respectively represented 34.2 +/- 9.3% and 12.6 +/- 3.2% of the total available area. BMSC culture on poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)/poly(ethylene glycol) foams provides a three-dimensional model system to study the development of mesenchymal tissues in vitro and has potential applications in engineering autologous grafts for skeletal tissue repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials*
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Cartilage / growth & development
  • Cattle
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Techniques
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Glycerophosphates / pharmacology
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Materials Testing
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Osteogenesis
  • Polyethylene Glycols*
  • Polyglactin 910*
  • Stromal Cells / cytology
  • Stromal Cells / drug effects
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Glycerophosphates
  • Insulin
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • poly(lactic-glycolic acid)-poly(ethyleneglycol) copolymer
  • Polyglactin 910
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Dexamethasone
  • beta-glycerophosphoric acid