Three-dimensional cartilage formation by bone marrow-derived cells seeded in polylactide/alginate amalgam

Edward J. Caterson, Leon J. Nesti, Wan Ju Li, Keith G. Danielson, Todd J. Albert, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Rocky S. Tuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Bone marrow-derived cells are considered as candidate cells for cartilage tissue engineering by virtue of their ability to undergo chondrogenesis in vitro when cultured in high density or when embedded within a three-dimensional matrix in the presence of growth factors. This study evaluated the potential of human bone marrow-derived cells for cartilage tissue engineering by examining their chondrogenic properties within a three-dimensional amalgam scaffold consisting of the biodegradable polymer, poly-L-lactic acid (PLA) alone, and with the polysaccharide gel, alginate. Cells were suspended either in alginate or medium and loaded into porous PLA blocks. Alginate was used to improve cell loading and retention within the construct, whereas the PLA polymeric scaffold provided appropriate mechanical support and stability to the composite culture. Cells seeded in the PLA/alginate amalgams and the plain PLA constructs were treated with different concentrations of recombinant human transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) either continuously (10 ng/mL) or only for the initial 3 days of culture (50 ng/mL). Chondrogenesis was assessed at weekly intervals with cultures maintained for up to 3 weeks. Histological and immunohistochemical analysis of the TGF-β1-treated PLA/alginate amalgam and PLA constructs showed development of a cartilaginous phenotype from day 7 to day 21 as demonstrated by colocalization of Alcian blue staining with collagen type II and cartilage proteoglycan link protein. Expression of cartilage specific genes, including collagen types II and IX, and aggrecan, was detected in TGF-β1-treated cultures by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis. The initiation and progression of chondrogenic differentiation within the polymeric macrostructure occurred with both continuous and the initial 3-day TGF-β1 treatment regimens, suggesting that key regulatory events of chondrogenesis take place during the early period of cell growth and proliferation. Scanning electron microscopy revealed abundant cells with a rounded morphology in the PLA/alginate amalgam. These findings suggest that the three-dimensional PLA/alginate amalgam is a potential candidate bioactive scaffold for cartilage tissue engineering applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-403
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Alginate
  • Bioresorbable polymers
  • Chondrogenesis
  • Marrow stromal cells
  • Tissue engineering


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