High-density cell culture is pivotal for the chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Two high-density cell culture systems, micromass and pellet culture, have been used to induce chondrogenic differentiation of hMSCs. In micromass culture, the induced-cartilage tissues were larger, more homogenous and enriched in cartilage-specific collagen II but the fibrocartilage-like feature, collagen I, and hypertrophic chondrocyte feature, collagen X, were markedly decreased compared to those in pellet culture. Furthermore, real time RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that collagen II and aggrecan mRNA were up-regulated while collagen X and collagen I mRNA were down-regulated in micromass culture. Thus, the micromass culture system is a promising tool for in vitro chondrogenic studies.
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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30971587), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province (No. 2008B030301131) and the Yat-Sen Scholarship for Young Scientists.
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