Differentiation capacity and maintenance of differentiated phenotypes of human mesenchymal stromal cells cultured on two distinct types of 3D polymeric scaffolds

A. M. Leferink, D. Santos, M. Karperien, R. K. Truckenmueller, C. A. van Blitterswijk, L. Moroni*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Many studies have shown the influence of soluble factors and material properties on the differentiation capacity of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) cultured as monolayers. These types of two-dimensional (2D) studies can be used as simplified models to understand cell processes related to stem cell sensing and mechano-transduction in a three-dimensional (3D) context. For several other mechanisms such as cell-cell signaling, cell proliferation and cell morphology, it is well-known that cells behave differently on a planar surface compared to cells in 3D environments. In classical tissue engineering approaches, a combination of cells, 3D scaffolds and soluble factors are considered as the key ingredients for the generation of mechanically stable 3D tissue constructs. However, when MSCs are used for tissue engineering strategies, little is known about the maintenance of their differentiation potential in 3D scaffolds after the removal of differentiation soluble factors. In this study, the differentiation potential of human MSCs (hMSCs) into the chondrogenic and osteogenic lineages on two distinct 3D scaffolds, additive manufactured electrospun scaffolds, was assessed and compared to conventional 2D culture. Human MSCs cultured in the presence of soluble factors in 3D showed to differentiate to the same extent as hMSCs cultured as 2D monolayers or as scaffold-free pellets, indicating that the two scaffolds do not play a consistent role in the differentiation process. In the case of phenotypic changes, the achieved differentiated phenotype was not maintained after the removal of soluble factors, suggesting that the plasticity of hMSCs is retained in 3D cell culture systems. This finding can have implications for future tissue engineering approaches in which the validation of hMSC differentiation on 3D scaffolds will not be sufficient to ensure the maintenance of the functionality of the cells in the absence of appropriate differentiation signals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1574-1586
JournalIntegrative Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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