Off-Loading of Cyclic Hydrostatic Pressure Promotes Production of Extracellular Matrix by Chondrocytes

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The addition of cyclic hydrostatic pressure (cHP) to cell culture medium has been used to promote extracellular matrix (ECM) production by articular chondrocytes. Though a combination of cHP followed by atmospheric pressure (AP) has been examined previously, the rationale of such a combination was unclear. We compared the effects of loading once versus twice (combinations of cHP followed by AP) regarding both gene expression and biochemical and histological phenotypes of chondrocytes. Isolated bovine articular chondrocytes were embedded in a collagen gel and incubated for 14 days under conditions combining cHP and AP. The gene expression of aggrecan core protein and collagen type II were upregulated in response to cHP, and those levels were maintained for at least 4 days after cHP treatment. Accumulation of cartilage-specific sulfated glycosaminoglycans following cHP for 7 days and subsequent AP for 7 days was significantly greater than that of the AP control (p < 0.05). Therefore, incubation at AP after loading with cHP was found to beneficially affect ECM accumulation. Manipulating algorithms of cHP combined with AP will be useful in producing autologous chondrocyte-based cell constructs for implantation.

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