The aim of this work is to investigate the capability of PRP as an adjuvant therapy to autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) in combination with multi-axial load with respect to cartilage regeneration. Articular cartilage shows poor repair capacity and therapies for cartilage defects are still lacking. Well-established operative treatments include ACI, and growing evidence shows the beneficial effects of PRP. Platelets contain numerous growth factors, among them transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). Dynamic mechanical loading is known to be essential for tissue formation, improving extracellular matrix (ECM) production. For our ACI model monolayer expanded human chondrocytes were seeded into polyurethane scaffolds and embedded in fibrin (hChondro), in PRP-Gel (PRP), or in fibrin with platelet lysate (PL), which was added to the media once a week with a concentration of 50 vol%. The groups were either exposed to static conditions or multi-axial forces in a ball-joint bioreactor for 1 h per day over 2 weeks, mimicking ACI under physiological load. The culture medium was collected and analyzed for glycosaminoglycan (GAG), nitrite and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) content. The cell-scaffold constructs were collected for DNA and GAG quantification; the expression of chondrogenic genes, TGF-β and related receptors, as well as inflammatory genes, were analyzed using qPCR. Loading conditions showed superior chondrogenic differentiation (upregulation of COL2A1, ACAN, COMP and PRG4 expression) than static conditions. PRP and PL groups combined with mechanical loading showed upregulation of COL2A1, ACAN and COMP. The highest amount of total TGF-β1 was quantified in the PL group. Latent TGF-β1 was activated in all loaded groups, while the highest amount was found in the PL group. Load increased TGFBR1/TGFBR2 mRNA ratio, with further increases in response to supplements. In general, loading increased nitrite release into the media. However, over time, the media nitrite content was lower in the PL group compared to the control group. Based on these experiments, we conclude that chondrogenic differentiation is strongest when simulated ACI is performed in combination with dynamic mechanical loading and PRP-gel or PL supplementation. An inflammatory reaction was reduced by PRP and PL, which could be one of the major therapeutic effects. Loading presumably can enhance the action of TGF-β1, which was predominantly activated in loaded PL groups. The combination of load and PRP represents an effective and promising synergy concerning chondrocyte-based cartilage repair.
© 2021. The Author(s).