In vitro evaluation of chondrocyte seeded alginate/ collagen sponge constructs for tissue engineered articular cartilage
Supervised by Professor G Bentley
Conducted at: The Institute of Orthopaedics, The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore
I spent a year investigating an artificial matrix into which chondrocytes could be seeded. The matrix was composed of alginate gel, which mimics the proteoglycan component of normal articular cartilage and collagen sponge, which mimics the collagen component.
Ultimately, the matrix would act as a scaffold to allow chondrocyte transplantation for osteochondral defects. Without a scaffold chondrocytes rapidly de-differentiate into fibroblasts which synthesise fibrocartilage rather than articular cartilage.
Bovine chondrocytes were isolated and subsequently cultured within the matrix. Evidence of chondrocyte viability, assay of matrix precursors and histology were undertaken over time along with immunohistology and electron microscopy to demonstrate articular cartilage synthesis.
Chondrocyte viability and phenotype were maintained over time and immunohistology confirmed synthesis of collagen type II (unique to articular cartilage) and chondroitin sulphate. Electron microscopy demonstrated architecture similar to human articular cartilage.