Mesenchymal stem cell stimulation of tissue growth depends on differentiation state

Stem Cells Dev. 2011 Mar;20(3):405-14. doi: 10.1089/scd.2010.0097. Epub 2010 Nov 3.


The osteochondral microenvironment involves a complex milieu of cues that facilitate proper tissue development, homeostasis, and repair. This environment is disrupted in disease states such as osteoarthritis. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are under clinical investigation for the treatment of osteoarthritis given their capacity to differentiate into chondrocytes as well as to secrete a wide array of biologically active factors that support cell proliferation and tissue formation. In fact, the therapeutic action of these cells in many clinical applications is now thought to be at least partially dependent on their secretory capacity. Previous work demonstrated that MSCs were capable of stimulating chondrocyte growth and tissue production, whereas tissue-derived osteoblasts were not stimulatory. This study investigated the stimulatory capacity of MSCs during osteogenesis and the impact of MSC phenotype on cartilage stimulation. Cell interactions were examined in 3 coculture systems to confirm that trends were not dependent on material: traditional cell culture insert coculture, bilayered poly(ethylene glycol) gels, and a scaffold comprised of a layer of poly(ethylene glycol) polymerized onto a poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid-based scaffold. Results demonstrated that MSCs predifferentiated toward an osteogenic phenotype for 3 days exhibited enhanced stimulation of chondrocyte extracellular matrix production, whereas longer periods of predifferentiation decreased the magnitude of observed stimulation. Further, tissue formation by the MSCs themselves showed greater dependence on the coculture system than the presence of other cells or length of predifferentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism
  • Cartilage / growth & development*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / cytology
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Hydrogels