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Chondroitin-6-Sulfate Incorporation and Mechanical Stimulation Increase MSC-Collagen Sponge Construct Stiffness


Using functional tissue engineering principles, our laboratory has produced tendon repair tissue which matches the normal patellar tendon force-displacement curve up to 32% of failure. This repair tissue will need to withstand more strenuous activities, which can reach or even exceed 40% of failure force. To improve the linear stiffness of our tissue engineered constructs (TECs) and tissue engineered repairs, our lab is incorporating the glycosaminoglycan chondroitin-6-sulfate (C6S) into a type I collagen scaffold. In this study, we examined the effect of C6S incorporation and mechanical stimulation cycle number on linear stiffness and mRNA expression (collagen types I and III, decorin and fibronectin) for mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-collagen sponge TECs. The TECs were fabricated by inoculating MSCs at a density of 0.14 × 10^6 cells/construct onto pre-cut scaffolds. Primarily type I collagen scaffold materials, with or without C6S, were cultured using mechanical stimulation with three different cycle numbers (0, 100, or 3,000 cycles/day). After 2 weeks in culture, TECs were evaluated for linear stiffness and mRNA expression. C6S incorporation and cycle number each played an important role in gene expression, but only the interaction of C6S incorporation and cycle number produced a benefit for TEC linear stiffness.