Extracellular Matrix Based Materials for Tissue Engineering
Abstract: The extracellular matrix is (ECM) is a network of large, structural proteins and polysaccharides, important for cellular behavior, tissue development and maintenance. Present thesis describes work exploring ECM as scaffolds for tissue engineering by manipulating cells cultured in vitro or by influencing ECM expression in vivo. By culturing cells on polymer meshes under dynamic culture conditions, deposition of a complex ECM could be achieved, but with low yields. Since the major part of synthesized ECM diffused into the medium the rate limiting step of deposition was investigated. This quantitative analysis showed that the real rate limiting factor is the low proportion of new proteins which are deposited as functional ECM. It is suggested that cells are pre-embedded in for example collagen gels to increase the steric retention and hence functional deposition.The possibility to induce endogenous ECM formation and tissue regeneration by implantation of growth factors in a carrier material was investigated. Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) is a growth factor known to be involved in growth and differentiation of bone and cartilage tissue. The BMP-2 processing and secretion was examined in two cell systems representing endochondral (chondrocytes) and intramembranous (mesenchymal stem cells) bone formation. It was discovered that chondrocytes are more efficient in producing BMP-2 compared to MSC. The role of the antagonist noggin was also investigated and was found to affect the stability of BMP-2 and modulate its effect. Finally, an injectable gel of the ECM component hyaluronan has been evaluated as delivery vehicle in cartilage regeneration. The hyaluronan hydrogel system showed promising results as a versatile biomaterial for cartilage regeneration, could easily be placed intraarticulary and can be used for both cell based and cell free therapies.
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