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1.  Development of a novel vitrification method for chondrocyte sheets 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:58.
There is considerable interest in using cell sheets for the treatment of various lesions as part of regenerative medicine therapy. Cell sheets can be prepared in temperature-responsive culture dishes and applied to injured tissue. For example, cartilage-derived cell sheets are currently under preclinical testing for use in treatment of knee cartilage injuries. The additional use of cryopreservation technology could increase the range and practicality of cell sheet therapies. To date, however, cryopreservation of cell sheets has proved impractical.
Here we have developed a novel and effective method for cryopreserving fragile chondrocyte sheets. We modified the vitrification method previously developed for cryopreservation of mammalian embryos to vitrify a cell sheet through use of a minimum volume of vitrification solution containing 20% dimethyl sulfoxide, 20% ethylene glycol, 0.5 M sucrose, and 10% carboxylated poly-L-lysine. The principal feature of our method is the coating of the cell sheet with a viscous vitrification solution containing permeable and non-permeable cryoprotectants prior to vitrification in liquid nitrogen vapor. This method prevented fracturing of the fragile cell sheet even after vitrification and rewarming. Both the macro- and microstructures of the vitrified cell sheets were maintained without damage or loss of major components. Cell survival in the vitrified sheets was comparable to that in non-vitrified samples.
We have shown here that it is feasible to vitrify chondrocyte cell sheets and that these sheets retain their normal characteristics upon thawing. The availability of a practical cryopreservation method should make a significant contribution to the effectiveness and range of applications of cell sheet therapy.
PMCID: PMC3726287  PMID: 23886356
Cell sheet therapy; Chondrocyte sheet; Vitrification; Cryopreservation; Cartilage repair
2.  Measurement of diffusion in articular cartilage using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:19.
Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) provides information about translational diffusion of fluorescent molecules in tiny detection volumes at the single-molecule level. In normal states, cartilage tissue lacks vascularity, so chondrocyte metabolism depends on diffusion for molecular exchanges. The abundant extracellular matrix (ECM) of cartilage is maintained by a limited number of chondrocytes. ECM plays an important role in the regulation of chondrocyte functions. In this study, FCS was used to measure diffusion behaviors of albumin, the major protein of the intra-articular space, using normal and degenerated cartilage. Preliminary investigation of fluorescence dyes including Alexa 488, Rhodamine 6G and Rhodamine 123 was conducted to evaluate their properties in cartilage.
The results indicate that the diffusion behaviors of fluorescently lableded albumin can be observed using FCS in both normal and chemically degenerated cartilage.
This work demonstrates the capability of FCS for direct measurement of diffusion in cartilaginous ECM. When the diffusion characteristics of fluorescent probes in ECM are clarified using FCS evaluation, FCS will be applicable as a method for early diagnosis of osteoarthritis, which is accompanied by increased abnormalities of ECM and also as tool for evaluating bio-engineered artificial cartilage for autologous chondrocyte implantation.
PMCID: PMC3061899  PMID: 21366913
3.  Jellyfish mucin may have potential disease-modifying effects on osteoarthritis 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:98.
We aimed to study the effects of intra-articular injection of jellyfish mucin (qniumucin) on articular cartilage degeneration in a model of osteoarthritis (OA) created in rabbit knees by resection of the anterior cruciate ligament. Qniumucin was extracted from Aurelia aurita (moon jellyfish) and Stomolophus nomurai (Nomura's jellyfish) and purified by ion exchange chromatography. The OA model used 36 knees in 18 Japanese white rabbits. Purified qniumucin extracts from S. nomurai or A. aurita were used at 1 mg/ml. Rabbits were divided into four groups: a control (C) group injected with saline; a hyaluronic acid (HA)-only group (H group); two qniumucin-only groups (M groups); and two qniumucin + HA groups (MH groups). One milligram of each solution was injected intra-articularly once a week for 5 consecutive weeks, starting from 4 weeks after surgery. Ten weeks after surgery, the articular cartilage was evaluated macroscopically and histologically.
In the C and M groups, macroscopic cartilage defects extended to the subchondral bone medially and laterally. When the H and both MH groups were compared, only minor cartilage degeneration was observed in groups treated with qniumucin in contrast to the group without qniumucin. Histologically, densely safranin-O-stained cartilage layers were observed in the H and two MH groups, but cartilage was strongly maintained in both MH groups.
At the concentrations of qniumucin used in this study, injection together with HA inhibited articular cartilage degeneration in this model of OA.
PMCID: PMC2801673  PMID: 19995451
4.  The properties of bioengineered chondrocyte sheets for cartilage regeneration 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:17.
Although the clinical results of autologous chondrocyte implantation for articular cartilage defects have recently improved as a result of advanced techniques based on tissue engineering procedures, problems with cell handling and scaffold imperfections remain to be solved. A new cell-sheet technique has been developed, and is potentially able to overcome these obstacles. Chondrocyte sheets applicable to cartilage regeneration can be prepared with this cell-sheet technique using temperature-responsive culture dishes. However, for clinical application, it is necessary to evaluate the characteristics of the cells in these sheets and to identify their similarities to naive cartilage.
The expression of SOX 9, collagen type 2, 27, integrin α10, and fibronectin genes in triple-layered chondrocyte sheets was significantly increased in comparison to those in conventional monolayer culture and in a single chondrocyte sheet, implying a nature similar to ordinary cartilage. In addition, immunohistochemistry demonstrated that collagen type II, fibronectin, and integrin α10 were present in the triple-layered chondrocyte sheets.
The results of this study indicate that these chondrocyte sheets with a consistent cartilaginous phenotype and adhesive properties may lead to a new strategy for cartilage regeneration.
PMCID: PMC2662823  PMID: 19267909

Results 1-4 (4)