Functional cell phenotype induction with TGF-β1 and collagen-polyurethane scaffold for annulus fibrosus rupture repair

Eur Cell Mater. 2020 Jan 3;39:1-17. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v039a01.


Appropriate cell sources, bioactive factors and biomaterials for generation of functional and integrated annulus fibrosus (AF) tissue analogues are still an unmet need. In the present study, the AF cell markers, collagen type I, cluster of differentiation 146 (CD146), mohawk (MKX) and smooth muscle protein 22α (SM22α) were found to be suitable indicators of functional AF cell induction. In vitro 2D culture of human AF cells showed that transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) upregulated the expression of the functional AF markers and increased cell contractility, indicating that TGF-β1-pre-treated AF cells were an appropriate cell source for AF tissue regeneration. Furthermore, a tissue engineered construct, composed of polyurethane (PU) scaffold with a TGF-β1-supplemented collagen type I hydrogel and human AF cells, was evaluated with in vitro 3D culture and ex vivo preclinical bioreactor-loaded organ culture models. The collagen type I hydrogel helped maintaining the AF functional phenotype. TGF-β1 supplement within the collagen I hydrogel further promoted cell proliferation and matrix production of AF cells within in vitro 3D culture. In the ex vivo IVD organ culture model with physiologically relevant mechanical loading, TGF-β1 supplement in the transplanted constructs induced the functional AF cell phenotype and enhanced collagen matrix synthesis. In conclusion, TGF-β1-containing collagen-PU constructs can induce the functional cell phenotype of human AF cells in vitro and in situ. This combined cellular, biomaterial and bioactive agent therapy has a great potential for AF tissue regeneration and rupture repair.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Annulus Fibrosus / drug effects
  • Annulus Fibrosus / pathology*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Phenotype
  • Polyurethanes / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rupture
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / pharmacology*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*
  • Wound Healing / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Polyurethanes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Collagen