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1.  Anisotropic Fibrous Scaffolds for Articular Cartilage Regeneration 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2012;18(19-20):2073-2083.
Articular cartilage lesions, which can progress to osteoarthritis, are a particular challenge for regenerative medicine strategies, as cartilage function stems from its complex depth-dependent microstructural organization, mechanical properties, and biochemical composition. Fibrous scaffolds offer a template for cartilage extracellular matrix production; however, the success of homogeneous scaffolds is limited by their inability to mimic the cartilage's zone-specific organization and properties. We fabricated trilaminar scaffolds by sequential electrospinning and varying fiber size and orientation in a continuous construct, to create scaffolds that mimicked the structural organization and mechanical properties of cartilage's collagen fibrillar network. Trilaminar composite scaffolds were then compared to homogeneous aligned or randomly oriented fiber scaffolds to assess in vitro cartilage formation. Bovine chondrocytes proliferated and produced a type II collagen and a sulfated glycosaminoglycan-rich extracellular matrix on all scaffolds. Furthermore, all scaffolds promoted significant upregulation of aggrecan and type II collagen gene expression while downregulating that of type I collagen. Compressive testing at physiological strain levels further demonstrated that the mechanical properties of trilaminar composite scaffolds approached those of native cartilage. Our results demonstrate that trilaminar composite scaffolds mimic key organizational characteristics of native cartilage, support in vitro cartilage formation, and have superior mechanical properties to homogenous scaffolds. We propose that these scaffolds offer promise in regenerative medicine strategies to repair articular cartilage lesions.
doi:10.1089/ten.tea.2011.0606
PMCID: PMC3463280  PMID: 22655795
2.  Characterization of Porcine Aortic Valvular Interstitial Cell ‘Calcified’ Nodules 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48154.
Valve interstitial cells populate aortic valve cusps and have been implicated in aortic valve calcification. Here we investigate a common in vitro model for aortic valve calcification by characterizing nodule formation in porcine aortic valve interstitial cells (PAVICs) cultured in osteogenic (OST) medium supplemented with transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1). Using a combination of materials science and biological techniques, we investigate the relevance of PAVICs nodules in modeling the mineralised material produced in calcified aortic valve disease. PAVICs were grown in OST medium supplemented with TGF-β1 (OST+TGF-β1) or basal (CTL) medium for up to 21 days. Murine calvarial osteoblasts (MOBs) were grown in OST medium for 28 days as a known mineralizing model for comparison. PAVICs grown in OST+TGF-β1 produced nodular structures staining positive for calcium content; however, micro-Raman spectroscopy allowed live, noninvasive imaging that showed an absence of mineralized material, which was readily identified in nodules formed by MOBs and has been identified in human valves. Gene expression analysis, immunostaining, and transmission electron microscopy imaging revealed that PAVICs grown in OST+TGF-β1 medium produced abundant extracellular matrix via the upregulation of the gene for Type I Collagen. PAVICs, nevertheless, did not appear to further transdifferentiate to osteoblasts. Our results demonstrate that ‘calcified’ nodules formed from PAVICs grown in OST+TGF-β1 medium do not mineralize after 21 days in culture, but rather they express a myofibroblast-like phenotype and produce a collagen-rich extracellular matrix. This study clarifies further the role of PAVICs as a model of calcification of the human aortic valve.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048154
PMCID: PMC3482191  PMID: 23110195

Results 1-2 (2)