Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 361, Issue 3, pp 811–821 | Cite as

Uncultured bone marrow mononuclear cells delay the dedifferentiation of unexpanded chondrocytes in pellet culture

  • Xiao Ouyang
  • Bo Wei
  • Fengyong Mao
  • Xiang Zhang
  • Yan Xu
  • Liming WangEmail author
Regular Article


Uncultured bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMMC) were recently used to successfully repair damaged cartilage. However, the effect of BMMCs on the proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes that are critical to cartilage repair is unclear. Here, we investigate the influence of BMMCs on chondrocyte dedifferentiation in pellet culture. We isolated and mixed BMMCs and chondrocytes in a 1:1 (BMMC/C) ratio and cultured in pellets (1.6 × 106 cells per pellet) for 2, 4, or 8 weeks. Chondrocyte differentiation was evaluated using macrography, histological examination, immunohistochemistry and gene expression analysis. While a transparent and smooth surface was observed in both BMMC/C and chondrocyte cultures over time, the former was smaller in size after 2 and 4 weeks of culture. Interestingly, after 8 weeks, BMMC/C cultures became significantly larger than chondrocyte cultures (P = 0.003). The distribution of a cartilage-specific extracellular matrix (ECM), that includes components like glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and type II collagen, was gradually reduced in chondrocyte cultures. On the other hand, while we found no obvious differences in the ECM in BMMC/C cultures between 2 and 4 weeks in vitro, after 8 weeks the concentration of ECM components decreased significantly. Further, we detected an upregulation of cartilage-specific genes in BMMC/C cultures, when compared with chondrocytes. Altogether, we demonstrate that co-culture with BMMCs delays the dedifferentiation of chondrocytes in pellet cultures in vitro. This suggests that uncultured BMMC, which can be quickly and safely obtained, could serve as a potential alternative cell source for engineering of cartilage tissue.


Bone marrow mononuclear cells Chondrocytes Dedifferentiation Cartilage tissue engineering Pellet culture 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81171745), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Xuzhou City, China (No. KC14SH010) and the Orthopedic Clinical Medical Center of Nanjing City, China.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest regarding the design and outcomes of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao Ouyang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bo Wei
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Fengyong Mao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiang Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yan Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Liming Wang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedics, Nanjing First HospitalNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Cartilage Regeneration Center, Nanjing First HospitalNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.China-Korea United Cell Therapy Center, Nanjing First HospitalNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Orthopedics, Xuzhou 3th HospitalAffiliated Hospital of Jiangsu UniversityXuzhouChina

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