Poly-L-Lactic Acid/Hydroxyapatite Electrospun Nanocomposites Induce Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human MSC

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Cartilage and bone tissue engineering has been widely investigated but is still hampered by cell differentiation and transplant integration issues within the constructs. Scaffolds represent the pivotal structure of the engineered tissue and establish an environment for neo-extracellular matrix synthesis. They can be associated to signals to modulate cell activity. In this study, considering the well reported role of hydroxyapatite (HA) in cartilage repair, we focused on the putative chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) following culture on membranes of electrospun fibers of poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) loaded with nanoparticles of HA. hMSCs were seeded on PLLA/HA and bare PLLA membranes and cultured in basal medium, using chondrogenic differentiation medium as a positive control. After 14 days of culture, SOX-9 positive cells could be detected in the PLLA/HA group. Cartilage specific proteoglycan immunostain confirmed the presence of neo-extracellular-matrix production. Co-expression of CD29, a typical surface marker of MSCs and SOX-9, suggested different degrees in the differentiation process. We developed a hydroxyapatite functionalized scaffold with the aim to recapitulate the native histoarchitecture and the molecular signaling of osteochondral tissue to facilitate cell differentiation toward chondrocyte. PLLA/HA nanocomposites induced differentiation of hMSCs in a chondrocyte-like phenotype with generation of a proteoglycan based matrix. This nanocomposite could be an amenable alternative scaffold for cartilage tissue engineering using hMSCs.

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