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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

The matrix-forming phenotype of cultured human meniscus cells is enhanced after culture with fibroblast growth factor 2 and is further stimulated by hypoxia

Adetola B Adesida, Lisa M Grady, Wasim S Khan and Timothy E Hardingham*

Author Affiliations

UK Centre for Tissue Engineering at The Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, Michael Smith Building, The University of Manchester, Manchester, Oxford Road, M13 9PT, UK

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R61  doi:10.1186/ar1929

Published: 17 March 2006


Human meniscus cells have a predominantly fibrogenic pattern of gene expression, but like chondrocytes they proliferate in monolayer culture and lose the expression of type II collagen. We have investigated the potential of human meniscus cells, which were expanded with or without fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), to produce matrix in three-dimensional cell aggregate cultures with a chondrogenic medium at low (5%) and normal (20%) oxygen tension. The presence of FGF2 during the expansion of meniscus cells enhanced the re-expression of type II collagen 200-fold in subsequent three-dimensional cell aggregate cultures. This was increased further (400-fold) by culture in 5% oxygen. Cell aggregates of FGF2-expanded meniscus cells accumulated more proteoglycan (total glycosaminoglycan) over 14 days and deposited a collagen II-rich matrix. The gene expression of matrix-associated proteoglycans (biglycan and fibromodulin) was also increased by FGF2 and hypoxia. Meniscus cells after expansion in monolayer can therefore respond to chondrogenic signals, and this is enhanced by FGF2 during expansion and low oxygen tension during aggregate cultures.