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Proliferation and differentiation potential of chondrocytes from osteoarthritic patients

Tommi Tallheden1*, Catherine Bengtsson1, Camilla Brantsing1, Eva Sjögren-Jansson1, Lars Carlsson2, Lars Peterson2, Mats Brittberg2 and Anders Lindahl1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden

2 Department Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R560-R568  doi:10.1186/ar1709

Published: 3 March 2005


Autologous chondrocyte transplantation (ACT) has been shown, in long-term follow-up studies, to be a promising treatment for the repair of isolated cartilage lesions. The method is based on an implantation of in vitro expanded chondrocytes originating from a small cartilage biopsy harvested from a non-weight-bearing area within the joint. In patients with osteoarthritis (OA), there is a need for the resurfacing of large areas, which could potentially be made by using a scaffold in combination with culture-expanded cells. As a first step towards a cell-based therapy for OA, we therefore investigated the expansion and redifferentiation potential in vitro of chondrocytes isolated from patients undergoing total knee replacement. The results demonstrate that OA chondrocytes have a good proliferation potential and are able to redifferentiate in a three-dimensional pellet model. During the redifferentiation, the OA cells expressed increasing amounts of DNA and proteoglycans, and at day 14 the cells from all donors contained type II collagen-rich matrix. The accumulation of proteoglycans was in comparable amounts to those from ACT donors, whereas total collagen was significantly lower in all of the redifferentiated OA chondrocytes. When the OA chondrocytes were loaded into a scaffold based on hyaluronic acid, they bound to the scaffold and produced cartilage-specific matrix proteins. Thus, autologous chondrocytes are a potential source for the biological treatment of OA patients but the limited collagen synthesis of the OA chondrocytes needs to be further explained.