Tissue engineering has the potential to provide cartilaginous constructs capable of restoring the normal function of native articular cartilage following joint injury or degradation. One approach to functional tissue engineering of cartilage involves the in vitro cultivation of tissue constructs by using: (i) chondrogenic cells that can be selected, expanded, and transfected to overexpress the genes of interest, (ii) scaffolds that provide a defined three-dimensional structure for tissue development and biodegrade at a controlled rate. Understanding the functional potential of the cells and the signaling mechanisms underlying their differentiation should lead to innovative protocols for clinical orthopaedic interventions. A large number of growth factors and hormones have been implicated in the regulation of chondrocyte biology, relatively little is known about the intracellular signaling pathways involved. We have tried to define the roles of specific TGF-β dependent signaling pathways involved in the regulation of chondrogenesis from human mesenchymal stem cells. Chondrogenesis induced by TGF-β3 in alginate bead system was confirmed by examining cartilage specific type II collagen expression and aggrecan, whereas type I collagen expression was not affected by TGF-β3. Type II collagen mRNA expression was expressed strongly during chondrogenesis and MEK inhibition (U0126) resulted in complete down-regulation of type II collagen. In contrast, aggrecan expression was detected in same level by treatment of U0126. These results strongly suggest that the ERK signaling cascade is involved in TGF-β3 induced-chondrogenesis signaling pathways and a role of its pathway is necessary over a longer period to promote type II collagen expression. However, their end product properties in vivo have not been well known. In this study, an articular cartilage from chondrogenic MSCs with PLGA scaffolds (75:25 and 65:35) were made and analyzed its biochemical, histological and mechanical properties in vitro and in vivo. And also, we evaluated the cartilage formation in vivo through the injection of cell-thermosensitive gel complex, a newly developed injectable material. At 12 weeks after PLGA scaffolds containing chondrogenic MSCs transplantation, the separated rabbit distal femur showed a good gross articular cartilage appearance in the transplanted site. In indentation test, compare to the native articular cartilage, the engineered cartilage from two types of (75:25 and 65:35) achieved up to 30-60% in mechanical stiffness. And also, a new model for cartilage formation in bladder, at 14 weeks after injection, we could find out mass formation in the submucosal area grossly. H&E staining, alcian blue staining and other special staining confirmed the chondrogenic differentiation in the mass. These cell therapy technologies can provide the possibility of clinical applications for vesicoureteral reflux and reflux esophagitis, and urinary incontinence as well as articular cartilage regeneration.
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