Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) are multifunctional components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) involved in different steps of the regulation of cellular differentiation. In this study artificial extracellular matrices (aECM) consisting of collagen (Col) I and different GAG derivatives were used as a substrate for human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC) to study osteogenic differentiation in vitro. hMSC were cultured on aECM containing col and hyaluronan sulfates (HyaS) with increasing degrees of sulfation (DS(S)) and were compared with aECM containing col and the natural GAG hyaluronan or chondroitin 4-sulfate. hMSC were analyzed for osteogenic differentiation markers such as calcium phosphate deposition, tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) and expression of runt-related transcription factor 2 (runx2), osteocalcin (ocn) and bone sialoprotein II (bspII). Compared with aECM containing Col and natural GAG all Col/HyaS-containing aECM induced an increase in calcium phosphate deposition, TNAP activity and tnap expression. These effects were also seen in the absence of dexamethasone (an established osteogenic supplement). The expression of runx2 and ocn was not altered and the expression of bspII was diminished on the col/HyaS-containing aECM. The impact of the Col/HyaS-containing aECM on hMSC differentiation was independent of the DS(S) of the HyaS derivatives, indicating the importance of the primary (C-6) hydroxyl group of N-acetylglucosamine. These results suggest that Col/HyaS-containing aECM are able to stimulate hMSC to undergo osteogenic differentiation even in the absence of dexamethasone, which makes these matrices an interesting tool for hMSC-based tissue engineering applications and biomaterial functionalizations to enhance bone formation.
Copyright © 2012 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.