Inhibition of hypertrophy and improving chondrocyte differentiation by MMP-13 inhibitor small molecule encapsulated in alginate-chondroitin sulfate-platelet lysate hydrogel

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2020 Oct 9;11(1):436. doi: 10.1186/s13287-020-01930-1.


Background: Mesenchymal stem cells are a promising cell source for chondrogenic differentiation and have been widely used in several preclinical and clinical studies. However, they are prone to an unwanted differentiation process towards hypertrophy that limits their therapeutic efficacy. Matrix metallopeptidase 13 (MMP-13) is a well-known factor regulated during this undesirable event. MMP-13 is a collagen degrading enzyme, which is also highly expressed in the hypertrophic zone of the growth plate and in OA cartilage. Accordingly, we investigated the effect of MMP-13 inhibition on MSC hypertrophy.

Methods: In this study, 5-bromoindole-2-carboxylic acid (BICA) was used as an inhibitory agent for MMP-13 expression. After identifying its optimal concentration, BICA was mixed into a hydrogel and the release rate was studied. To prepare the ideal hydrogel, chondroitin sulfate (CS) and platelet lysate (PL) were mixed with sodium alginate (Alg) at concentrations selected based on synergistic mechanical and rheometric properties. Then, four hydrogels were prepared by combining alginate (1.5%w/v) and/or CS (1%w/v) and/or PL (20%v/v). The chondrogenic potential and progression to hypertrophy of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell (hBM-MSC)-loaded hydrogels were investigated under free swelling and mechanical loading conditions, in the presence and absence of BICA.

Results: Viability of hBM-MSCs seeded in the four hydrogels was similar. qRT-PCR revealed that BICA could successfully inhibit MMP-13 expression, which led to an inhibition of Coll X and induction of Coll-II, in both free swelling and loading conditions. The GAG deposition was higher in the group combining BICA and mechanical stimulation.

Conclusions: It is concluded that BICA inhibition of MMP-13 reduces MSC hypertrophy during chondrogenesis.

Keywords: And mechanical properties; Chondrocyte hypertrophy; MMP-13 inhibitor; Platelet lysate; Small molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alginates
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes
  • Chondrogenesis*
  • Chondroitin Sulfates / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels*
  • Hypertrophy
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells


  • Alginates
  • Hydrogels
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Chondroitin Sulfates
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13