Coupling Freshly Isolated CD44(+) Infrapatellar Fat Pad-Derived Stromal Cells with a TGF-β3 Eluting Cartilage ECM-Derived Scaffold as a Single-Stage Strategy for Promoting Chondrogenesis.

An alternative strategy to the use of in vitro expanded cells in regenerative medicine is the use of freshly isolated stromal cells, where a bioactive scaffold is used to provide an environment conducive to proliferation and tissue-specific differentiation in vivo. The objective of this study is to develop a cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM)-derived scaffold that could facilitate the rapid proliferation and chondrogenic differentiation of freshly isolated stromal cells. By freeze-drying cryomilled cartilage ECM of differing concentrations, it is possible to produce scaffolds with a range of pore sizes. The migration, proliferation, and chondrogenic differentiation of infrapatellar fat pad-derived stem cells (FPSCs) depend on the concentration/porosity of these scaffolds, with greater sulphated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) accumulation observed in scaffolds with larger-sized pores. It is then sought to determine if freshly isolated fat pad-derived stromal cells, seeded onto a transforming growth factor (TGF)-β3 eluting ECM-derived scaffold, could promote chondrogenesis in vivo. While a more cartilage-like tissue could be generated using culture expanded FPSCs compared to nonenriched freshly isolated cells, fresh CD44(+) stromal cells are capable of producing a tissue in vivo that stained strongly for sGAGs and type II collagen. These findings open up new possibilities for in-theatre cell-based therapies for joint regeneration.