Relative survivability of human osteoblasts is enhanced by 39 °C and ascorbic acid after exposure to photopolymerization ingredients

Cytotechnology. 2013 Aug;65(4):587-96. doi: 10.1007/s10616-012-9512-8. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


Photopolymerizable hydrogels offer great potential in cartilage tissue engineering due to their ability to conform to irregular defect shapes and be applied in a potentially minimally invasive manner. An important process requirement in the use of photopolymerizable hydrogels is the ability of the suspended cells to withstand low intensity ultraviolet light (UV) exposure (4-5 mW/cm(2)) and photoinitiator concentrations. For cartilage integration with underlying subchondral bone tissue, robust localized osteoblast activity is necessary. Yet, while it is known that osteoblasts do not respond well to UV light, limited work has been conducted to improve their survivability. In this study, we evaluated the cellular cytotoxicity of five different human cell sources at different UV exposure times, with and without a commercially used photoinitiator. We were able to confirm that human osteoblasts were the least tolerant to varying UV exposure times in comparison to bone marrow stem cell, periodontal ligament cell, smooth muscle and endothelial cell lineages. Moreover osteoblasts cultured at 39 °C did not deteriorate in terms of alkaline phosphatase expression or calcium deposition within the extracellular matrix (ECM), but did reduce cell proliferation. We believe however that the lower proliferation diminished osteoblast sensitivity to UV and the photoinitiator. In fact, the relative survivability of osteoblasts was found to be augmented by the combination of a biochemical factor and an elevated incubation temperature; specifically, the use of 50 mg/l of the anti-oxidant, ascorbic acid significantly (P < 0.05) increased the survivability of osteoblasts when cultured at 39 °C. We conclude that ascorbic acid at an incubation temperature of 39 °C can be included in in vitro protocols used to assess cartilage integration with bone ECM. Such inclusion will enhance conditions of the engineered tissue model system in recapitulating in vivo osteoblast activity.