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Proteomic, mechanical, and biochemical development of tissue-engineered neocartilage.



The self-assembling process of cartilage tissue engineering is a promising technique to heal cartilage defects, preventing osteoarthritic changes. Given that chondrocytes dedifferentiate when expanded, it is not known if cellular expansion affects the development of self-assembled neocartilage. The objective of this study was to use proteomic, mechanical, and biochemical analyses to quantitatively investigate the development of self-assembled neocartilage derived from passaged, rejuvenated costal chondrocytes.


Yucatan minipig costal chondrocytes were used to create self-assembled neocartilage constructs. After 1, 4, 7, 14, 28, 56, or 84 days of self-assembly, constructs were analyzed through a variety of histological, biomechanical, biochemical, and proteomic techniques.


It was found that temporal trends in neocartilage formation are similar to those seen in native hyaline articular cartilage development. For example, between days 7 and 84 of culture, tensile Young's modulus increased 4.4-times, total collagen increased 2.7-times, DNA content decreased 69.3%, collagen type II increased 1.5-times, and aggrecan dropped 55.3%, mirroring trends shown in native knee cartilage. Importantly, collagen type X, which is associated with cartilage calcification, remained at low levels (≤ 0.05%) at all neocartilage developmental time points, similar to knee cartilage (< 0.01%) and unlike donor rib cartilage (0.98%).


In this work, bottom-up proteomics, a powerful tool to interrogate tissue composition, was used for the first time to quantify and compare the proteome of a developing engineered tissue to a recipient tissue. Furthermore, it was shown that self-assembled, costal chondrocyte-derived neocartilage is suitable for a non-homologous approach in the knee.

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