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Open Access Research article

Chondrogenic differentiation potential of osteoarthritic chondrocytes and their possible use in matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation

Tilo Dehne1*, Camilla Karlsson2, Jochen Ringe1, Michael Sittinger1 and Anders Lindahl2

Author Affiliations

1 Tissue Engineering Laboratory and Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies, Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Tucholskystraße 2, Berlin, 10117, Germany

2 Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Bruna Stråket 16, Gothenburg, SE 413-45, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R133  doi:10.1186/ar2800

Published: 2 September 2009

Abstract

Introduction

Autologous chondrocyte transplantation (ACT) is a routine technique to regenerate focal cartilage lesions. However, patients with osteoarthritis (OA) are lacking an appropriate long-lasting treatment alternative, partly since it is not known if chondrocytes from OA patients have the same chondrogenic differentiation potential as chondrocytes from donors not affected by OA.

Methods

Articular chondrocytes from patients with OA undergoing total knee replacement (Mankin Score > 3, Ahlbäck Score > 2) and from patients undergoing ACT, here referred to as normal donors (ND), were isolated applying protocols used for ACT. Their chondrogenic differentiation potential was evaluated both in high-density pellet and scaffold (Hyaff-11) cultures by histological proteoglycan assessment (Bern Score) and immunohistochemistry for collagen types I and II. Chondrocytes cultured in monolayer and scaffolds were subjected to gene expression profiling using genome-wide oligonucleotide microarrays. Expression data were verified by using real-time PCR.

Results

Chondrocytes from ND and OA donors demonstrated accumulation of comparable amounts of cartilage matrix components, including sulphated proteoglycans and collagen types I and II. The mRNA expression of cartilage markers (ACAN, COL2A1, COMP, CRTL1, SOX9) and genes involved in matrix synthesis (BGN, CILP2, COL9A2, COL11A1, TIMP4) was highly induced in 3D cultures of chondrocytes from both donor groups. Genes associated with hypertrophic or OA cartilage (ALPL, COL1A1, COL3A1, COL10A1, MMP13, POSTN, PTH1R, RUNX2) were not significantly regulated between the two groups of donors. The expression of 661 genes, including COMP, FN1, and SOX9, was differentially regulated between OA and ND chondrocytes cultured in monolayer. During scaffold culture, the differences diminished between the OA and ND chondrocytes, and only 184 genes were differentially regulated.

Conclusions

Only few genes were differentially expressed between OA and ND chondrocytes in Hyaff-11 culture. The risk of differentiation into hypertrophic cartilage does not seem to be increased for OA chondrocytes. Our findings suggest that the chondrogenic capacity is not significantly affected by OA, and OA chondrocytes fulfill the requirements for matrix-associated ACT.