Articular cartilage has a limited capacity to heal after damage from injury or degenerative disease. Tissue engineering constructs that more closely mimic the native cartilage microenvironment can be utilized to promote repair. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a major component of the cartilage extracellular matrix, have the ability to sequester growth factors due to their level and spatial distribution of sulfate groups. This study evaluated the use of a GAG mimetic, cellulose sulfate, as a scaffolding material for cartilage tissue engineering. Cellulose sulfate can be synthesized to have a similar level and spatial distribution of sulfates as chondroitin sulfate C (CSC), the naturally occurring GAG. This partially sulfated cellulose (pSC) was incorporated into a fibrous gelatin construct by the electrospinning process. Scaffolds were characterized for fiber morphology and overall stability over time in an aqueous environment, growth factor interaction, and for supporting mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) chondrogenesis in vitro. All scaffold groups had micron-sized fibers and maintained overall stability in aqueous environments. Increasing concentrations of the transforming growth factor-beta 3 (TGF-β3) were detected on scaffolds with increasing pSC. MSC chondrogenesis was enhanced on the scaffold with the highest pSC concentration as seen with the highest collagen type II production, collagen type II immunostaining, expression of cartilage-specific genes, and ratio of collagen type II to collagen type I production. These studies demonstrated the potential of pSC sulfate as a scaffolding material for cartilage tissue engineering.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- cellulose sulfate
- glycosaminoglycan mimetic
- mesenchymal stem cells