Enhancing post-expansion chondrogenic potential of costochondral cells in self-assembled neocartilage

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56983. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056983. Epub 2013 Feb 21.


The insufficient healing capacity of articular cartilage necessitates mechanically functional biologic tissue replacements. Using cells to form biomimetic cartilage implants is met with the challenges of cell scarcity and donor site morbidity, requiring expanded cells that possess the ability to generate robust neocartilage. To address this, this study assesses the effects of expansion medium supplementation (bFGF, TFP, FBS) and self-assembled construct seeding density (2, 3, 4 million cells/5 mm dia. construct) on the ability of costochondral cells to generate biochemically and biomechanically robust neocartilage. Results show TFP (1 ng/mL TGF-β1, 5 ng/mL bFGF, 10 ng/mL PDGF) supplementation of serum-free chondrogenic expansion medium enhances the post-expansion chondrogenic potential of costochondral cells, evidenced by increased glycosaminoglycan content, decreased type I/II collagen ratio, and enhanced compressive properties. Low density (2 million cells/construct) enhances matrix synthesis and tensile and compressive mechanical properties. Combined, TFP and Low density interact to further enhance construct properties. That is, with TFP, Low density increases type II collagen content by over 100%, tensile stiffness by over 300%, and compressive moduli by over 140%, compared with High density. In conclusion, the interaction of TFP and Low density seeding enhances construct material properties, allowing for a mechanically functional, biomimetic cartilage to be formed using clinically relevant costochondral cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage, Articular / chemistry
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chondrocytes / cytology*
  • Chondrogenesis / physiology*
  • Collagen Type II / metabolism
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Swine
  • Tissue Engineering*


  • Collagen Type II
  • Glycosaminoglycans