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Adult Dermal Stem Cells for Scaffold-Free Cartilage Tissue Engineering: Exploration of Strategies


Dermis-isolated adult stem (DIAS) cells, abundantly available, are attractive for regenerative medicine. Strategies have been devised to isolate and to chondroinduce DIAS cells from various animals. This study aimed to characterize DIAS cells from human abdominal skin (human dermis-isolated adult stem [hDIAS] cells) and to compare and to refine various chondroinduction regimens to form functional neocartilage constructs. The stemness of hDIAS cells was verified (Phase I), three chondroinduction pretreatments were compared (Phase II), and, from these, one regimen was carried forward for refinement in Phase III for improving the mechanical properties of hDIAS cell-derived constructs. Multilineage differentiation and mesenchymal stem cell markers were observed. Among various chondroinduction pretreatments, the nodule formation pretreatment yielded constructs at least 72% larger in diameter, with higher glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content by 44%, compared with other pretreatments. Furthermore, it was found that culturing cells on nontissue culture-treated surfaces yielded constructs (1) on par with constructs derived from aggrecan-coated surfaces and (2) with superior mechanical properties than constructs derived from cells cultured on tissue culture-treated surfaces. After the nodule formation pretreatment, combined supplementation of TGF-β1, IGF-I, and fetal bovine serum significantly enhanced aggregate modulus and shear modulus by 75% and 69%, respectively, over the supplementation by TGF-β1 alone. In summary, human skin-derived DIAS cells are responsive to chondroinduction for forming neocartilage. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of the resultant human constructs can be improved by treatments shown to be efficacious in animal models. Advances made toward tissue-engineering cartilage using animal cells were shown to be applicable to hDIAS cells for cartilage repair and regeneration.

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