OBJECTIVE: To determine in situ using TEM the balance of apoptosis and necrosis in the articular cartilage of patients with inflammatory (rheumatoid arthritis and seronegative spondyloarthritis) and degenerative (osteoarthritis) joint diseases and to establish possible correlation between the cell death rate and the matrix vesicles formation.
METHODS: Cartilage samples of the knee joint were obtained from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA, 18 cases), osteoarthritis (OA, 22 cases), Reiter's disease (RD, 9 cases), peripheral form of the ankylosing spondyloarthritis (AS, 6 cases) and psoriatic arthritis (PA, 6 cases) during arthroscopy or knee surgery. Normal samples taken from autopsy cases without a history of joint diseases were used as control. Samples were processed for TEM with subsequent semi-quantitative estimation of the cell death rate in the superficial, middle and deep zone of non-calcified articular cartilage, and computer-aided ultramorphometric evaluation of the matrix vesicles of different types.
RESULTS: Both apoptotic and necrotic cell death could be identified in the cartilage of patients with inflammatory joint diseases, including seronegative spondyloarthritides and degenerative arthropathies. Apoptosis dominated over necrosis in all examined arthritides, including RA patients in which necrosis of the chondrocyte was the most frequent among arthropathies, while the highest apoptotic cell death rate was discovered in OA in which it correlated with the volume and numeric density of the matrix vesicles. These data provide evidence that apoptosis may contribute to the cartilage breakdown not only in RA and OA but also in the seronegative spondyloarthritides, which had a significantly higher apoptotic rate than the normal cartilage.
This study was performed to determine the microscopic biological response of human nasal septum chondrocytes and human knee articular chondrocytes placed on a demineralized bovine bone scaffold. Both chondrocytes were cultured and seeded onto the bovine bone scaffold with seeding density of 1 x 105 cells per 100 microl/scaffold and incubated for 1, 2, 5 and 7 days. Proliferation and viability of the cells were measured by mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity (MTT assay), adhesion study was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy and differentiation study was analyzed by immunofluorescence staining and confocal laser scanning electron microscopy. The results showed good proliferation and viability of both chondrocytes on the scaffolds from day 1 to day 7. Both chondrocytes increased in number with time and readily grew on the surface and into the open pores of the scaffold. Immunofluorescence staining demonstrated collagen type II on the scaffolds for both chondrocytes. The results showed good cells proliferation, attachment and maturity of the chondrocytes on the demineralized bovine bone scaffold. The bovine bone being easily resourced, relatively inexpensive and non toxic has good potential for use as a three dimensional construct in cartilage tissue engineering.
Human amniotic membrane (HAM) is an established biomaterial used in many clinical applications. However, its use for tissue engineering purposes has not been fully realized. A study was therefore conducted to evaluate the feasibility of using HAM as a chondrocyte substrate/carrier. HAMs were obtained from fresh human placenta and were process to produced air dried HAM (AdHAM) and freeze dried HAM (FdHAM). Rabbit chondrocytes were isolated and expanded in vitro and seeded onto these preparations. Cell proliferation, GAG expression and GAG/cell expression were measured at days 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 21, and 28. These were compared to chondrocytes seeded onto plastic surfaces. Histological analysis and scanning electron microscopy was performed to observe cell attachment. There was significantly higher cell proliferation rates observed between AdHAM (13-51%, P=0.001) or FdHAM (18-48%, p = 0.001) to chondrocytes in monolayer. Similarly, GAG and GAG/cell expressed in AdHAM (33-82%, p = 0.001; 22-60%, p = 0.001) or FdHAM (41-81%, p = 0.001: 28-60%, p = 0.001) were significantly higher than monolayer cultures. However, no significant differences were observed in the proliferation rates (p = 0.576), GAG expression (p = 0.476) and GAG/cell expression (p = 0.135) between AdHAM and FdHAM. The histology and scanning electron microscopy assessments demonstrates good chondrocyte attachments on both HAMs. In conclusion, both AdHAM and FdHAM provide superior chondrocyte proliferation, GAG expression, and attachment than monolayer cultures making it a potential substrate/carrier for cell based cartilage therapy and transplantation.
Tissue engineering approaches often require expansion of cell numbers in vitro to accelerate tissue regenerative processes. Although several studies have used this technique for therapeutic purposes, a major concern involving the use of isolated chondrocyte culture is the reduction of extracellular matrix (ECM) protein expressed due to the transfer of cells from the normal physiological milieu to the artificial 2D environment provided by the cell culture flasks. To overcome this issue, the use of alginate hydrogel beads as a substrate in chondrocyte cultures has been suggested. However, the resultant characteristics of cells embedded in this bead is elusive. To elucidate this, a study using chondrocytes isolated from rabbit knee articular cartilage expanded in vitro as monolayer and chondrocyte-alginate constructs was conducted. Immunohistochemical evaluation and ECM distribution was examined with or without transforming growth factor (TGF-β1) supplement to determine the ability of cells to express major chondrogenic proteins in these environments. Histological examination followed by transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy was performed to determine the morphology and the ultrastructural characteristics of these cells. Results demonstrated a significant increase in glycosaminoglycan/mg protein levels in chondrocyte cultures grown in alginate construct than in monolayer cultures. In addition, an abundance of ECM protein distribution surrounding chondrocytes cultured in alginate hydrogel was observed. In conclusion, the current study demonstrates that the use of alginate hydrogel beads in chondrocyte cultures with or without TGF-β1 supplement provided superior ECM expression than monolayer cultures.
Impact loading of articular cartilage causes extensive chondrocyte death. Cell membranes have a limited elastic range of 3-4% strain but are protected from direct stretch during physiological loading by their membrane reservoir, an intricate pattern of membrane folds. Using a finite-element model, we suggested previously that access to the membrane reservoir is strain-rate-dependent and that during impact loading, the accessible membrane reservoir is drastically decreased, so that strains applied to chondrocytes are directly transferred to cell membranes, which fail when strains exceed 3-4%. However, experimental support for this proposal is lacking. The purpose of this study was to measure the accessible membrane reservoir size for different membrane strain rates using membrane tethering techniques with atomic force microscopy. We conducted atomic force spectroscopy on isolated chondrocytes (n = 87). A micron-sized cantilever was used to extract membrane tethers from cell surfaces at constant pulling rates. Membrane tethers could be identified as force plateaus in the resulting force-displacement curves. Six pulling rates were tested (1, 5, 10, 20, 40, and 80 μm/s). The size of the membrane reservoir, represented by the membrane tether surface areas, decreased exponentially with increasing pulling rates. The current results support our theoretical findings that chondrocytes exposed to impact loading die because of membrane ruptures caused by high tensile membrane strain rates.