Articular cartilage is a tissue specifically adapted to a specific niche with a low oxygen tension (hypoxia), and the presence of such conditions is a key factor in regulating growth and survival of chondrocytes. Zinc deficiency has been linked to cartilage-related disease, and presence of Zinc is known to provide antibacterial benefits, which makes its inclusion attractive in an in vitro system to reduce infection. Inclusion of 1% zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnONP) in poly octanediol citrate (POC) polymer cultured in hypoxia has not been well determined. In this study we investigated the effects of ZnONP on chondrocyte proliferation and matrix synthesis cultured under normoxia (21% O2 ) and hypoxia (5% O2 ). We report an upregulation of chondrocyte proliferation and sulfated glycosaminoglycan (S-GAG) in hypoxic culture. Results demonstrate a synergistic effect of oxygen concentration and 1% ZnONP in up-regulation of anabolic gene expression (Type II collagen and aggrecan), and a down regulation of catabolic (MMP-13) gene expression. Furthermore, production of transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1A (HIF-1A) in response to hypoxic condition to regulate chondrocyte survival under hypoxia is not affected by the presence of 1% ZnONP. Presence of 1% ZnONP appears to act to preserve homeostasis of cartilage in its hypoxic environment.
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