University of Twente 2014 - dissertation
Preventing the onset of a degenerative disease like osteoarthritis by restoring tissue function before cartilage degradation occurs will decrease health costs, reduce socio-economic burdens of patients and preserve quality of life. However, producing ex vivo cartilage implants of clinically relevant size remains a challenge. Culturing isolated chondrocytes in an environment that resembles their native environment can stimulate the cells to deposit and rearrange extracellular matrix that is structurally similar to native cartilage. Bioreactors and hydrogels can provide such a setting ex vivo (Chapter 2). Articular cartilage has a particular location in the joint. It is situated between synovial fluid and the subchondral bone plate. Together with the avascular nature of cartilage, this has an important influence on nutrient supply, growth factor distribution and action of these compounds. Its function is also determined by the mechanical stimulation cartilage is subjected to. Both these key factors are captured in one device (Chapter 3). This bioreactor is then used to test how this particular growth factor and nutrient supply influences chondrocyte behavior in vitro (Chapter 4 and 5). Here we find that and matrix distribution of cells cultured in the bioreactor system show trends that resemble the profiles in native cartilage.