In our previous study, we found that cartilage fragments from osteoarthritic knee promoted chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells. In this study, we further transformed the cartilage tissues into acellular cartilage matrix (ACM) and explored the feasibility of using ACM as a biological scaffold. Nonworn parts of cartilage tissues were obtained during total knee arthroplasty (TKA) surgery and were successfully fabricated into ACM powders. The ACM powders and human synovium-derived mesenchymal stem cells (SMSCs) were mixed into collagen gel for in vitro culture. Histological results showed a synergistic effect of ACM powders and chondrogenic growth factors in the formation of engineered cartilage. The findings of real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) suggested that ACM powders had the potential of promoting type II collagen gene expression in the growth factors-absent environment. Moreover, with growth factors induction, the ACM powders could reduce the hypertrophy in chondrogenesis of SMSCs. In summary, ACM powders could serve as a functional scaffold that benefited the chondrogenesis of SMSCs for cartilage tissue engineering.
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