Tissue Engineering Part A vol:20 issue:7-8 pages:1197-1212
Fibrin-polyurethane composite scaffolds support chondrogenesis of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) derived from bone marrow and due to their robust mechanical properties allow mechanical loading in dynamic bioreactors, which has been shown to increase the chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs through the transforming growth factor beta pathway. The aim of this study was to use the finite element method, mechanical testing, and dynamic in vitro cell culture experiments on hMSC-enriched fibrin-polyurethane composite scaffolds to quantitatively decipher the mechanoregulation of chondrogenesis within these constructs. The study identified compressive principal strains as the key regulator of chondrogenesis in the constructs. Although dynamic uniaxial compression did not induce chondrogenesis, multiaxial loading by combined application of dynamic compression and interfacial shear induced significant chondrogenesis at locations where all the three principal strains were compressive and had a minimum magnitude of 10%. In contrast, no direct correlation was identified between the level of pore fluid velocity and chondrogenesis. Due to the high permeability of the constructs, the pore fluid pressures could not be increased sufficiently by mechanical loading, and instead, chondrogenesis was induced by triaxial compressive deformations of the matrix with a minimum magnitude of 10%. Thus, it can be concluded that dynamic triaxial compressive deformations of the matrix is sufficient to induce chondrogenesis in a threshold-dependent manner, even where the pore fluid pressure is negligible.