Author(s): Qing C, Weiding C, Weimin F
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Abstract Chondrocytes and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) are frequently used as seed cells in cartilage tissue engineering. In the present study, we determined if the co-culture of rabbit articular chondrocytes and BMSCs in vitro promotes the expression of cartilaginous extracellular matrix and, if so, what is the optimal ratio of the two cell types. Cultures of rabbit articular chondrocytes and BMSCs were expanded in vitro and then cultured individually or at a chondrocyte:BMSC ratio of 4:1, 2:1, 1:1, 1:2, 1:4 for 21 days and cultured in DMEM/F12. BMSCs were cultured in chondrogenic induction medium. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR and Western blot were used to evaluate gene expression. In the co-cultures, type II collagen and aggrecan expression increased on days 14 and 21. At the mRNA level, the expression of type II collagen and aggrecan on day 21 was much higher in the 4:1, 2:1, and 1:1 groups than in either the articular chondrocyte group or the induced BMSC group, and the best ratio of co-culture groups seems to be 2:1. Also on day 21, the expression of type II collagen and aggrecan proteins in the 2:1 group was much higher than in all other groups. The results demonstrate that the co-culture of rabbit chondrocytes and rabbit BMSCs at defined ratios can promote the expression of cartilaginous extracellular matrix. The optimal cell ratio appears to be 2:1 (chondrocytes:BMSCs). This approach has potential applications in cartilage tissue engineering since it provides a protocol for maintaining and promoting seed-cell differentiation and function.
This article was published in Braz J Med Biol Res
and referenced in Journal of Bioengineering and Bioelectronics