Investigating cellulose derived glycosaminoglycan mimetic scaffolds for cartilage tissue engineering applications

G. Portocarrero Huang, A. Molina, N. Tran, G. Collins, Treena Livingston Arinzeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Articular cartilage has a limited capacity to heal and, currently, no treatment exists that can restore normal hyaline cartilage. Creating tissue engineering scaffolds that more closely mimic the native extracellular matrix may be an attractive approach. Glycosaminoglycans, which are present in native cartilage tissue, provide signalling and structural cues to cells. This study evaluated the use of a glycosaminoglycan mimetic, derived from cellulose, as a potential scaffold for cartilage repair applications. Fully sulfated sodium cellulose sulfate (NaCS) was initially evaluated in soluble form as an additive to cell culture media. Human mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) chondrogenesis in pellet culture was enhanced with 0.01% NaCS added to induction media as demonstrated by significantly higher gene expression for type II collagen and aggrecan. NaCS was combined with gelatine to form fibrous scaffolds using the electrospinning technique. Scaffolds were characterized for fibre morphology, overall hydrolytic stability, protein/growth factor interaction and for supporting MSC chondrogenesis in vitro. Scaffolds immersed in phosphate buffered saline for up to 56 days had no changes in swelling and no dissolution of NaCS as compared to day 0. Increasing concentrations of the model protein lysozyme and transforming growth factor-β3 were detected on scaffolds with increasing concentrations of NaCS (p < 0.05). MSC chondrogenesis was enhanced on the scaffold with the lowest NaCS concentration as seen with the highest collagen type II production, collagen type II immunostaining, and expression of cartilage-specific genes. These studies demonstrate the feasibility of cellulose sulfate as a scaffolding material for cartilage tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e592-e603
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • biomimetic
  • cellulose sulfate
  • chondrogenesis
  • electrospinning
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • transforming growth factor-β


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