Sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAG) are multifunctional components of the extracellular matrix and are involved in the regulation of adhesion, proliferation and differentiation of cells. The effects of GAG are mediated in general by their interactions with cations and water, and in particular by their binding to growth factors. The aim of this study was to generate artificial extracellular matrices (aECM) containing collagen I and hyaluronan sulfate (HyaS), which are capable of adsorbing and releasing transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1), and to promote collagen synthesis of cultured human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC). For the preparation of aECM, monosulfated Hya (HyaS1) or trisulfated Hya (HyaS3) were used; the natural chondroitin-4-sulfate was used as a control. As applied for the in vitro experiments, the resulting matrices were composed of 93-98% collagen I and 2-7% GAG derivative. Adsorption of TGF-β1 to the aECM and release from the aECM was dependent on the degree of sulfation of hyaluronan. Collagen synthesis of hMSC was promoted only by aECM with adsorbed TGF-β1; the bare aECM had a slightly inhibitory effect on collagen synthesis. The promoting effect did not correlate either to the amount of adsorbed TGF-β1 nor to the release of TGF-β1, indicating that the correct presentation of TGF-β1 to the cells might be critical. The results indicate that sulfated hyaluronan-containing aECM have the potential to control both the adsorption and release of TGF-β1, and thereby promote collagen synthesis of hMSC. Thus, these aECM might be a useful tool for different tissue-engineering applications to enhance bone formation when used for biomaterial coating.
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