Articular cartilage repair is challenging due to limited access to reparative cells and a lack of self-healing mechanisms. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) are a promising therapeutic option, but their tendency to form fibrocartilage during repair necessitates the optimization of culture conditions. To overcome this limitation, optimizing in-vitro culture conditions with biological coating using extracellular matrix-derived proteins has been efficient in mimicking in-vivo cellular behavior. Fetal cartilage, with abundant collagen, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans has emerged as a potential source for cartilage repair. No studies have so far evaluated the effect of fetal cartilage-derived collagen on BM-MSCs. This study aimed to evaluate the chondro-inductive potential of decellularized collagen derived from fetal cartilage, which was used as a coating material for expansion of BM-MSCs.
The extraction of fetal collagen was performed from the tibiofemoral joint of a 36+4-week gestational age fetus. The freeze-dried collagen type II was reconstituted at a concentration of 10μg/ml and used to coat the culture flasks. Passage 3 BM-MSCs were divided into two groups: a) standard expansion medium (BM-MSCs) and b) collagen-coated plasticware (collagen-coated BM-MSCs). Growth kinetics, surface markers, gene expression, and differentiation potential were assessed. The decellularized collagen coating did not influence the growth kinetics, surface marker and gene expression of BM-MSCs. However, it positively influenced GAG accumulation and collagen type II deposition. Further studies utilizing in-vivo models are warranted to evaluate the potential of collagen-coated BM-MSCs and exploit their adjuvant effect on chondrogenesis.