Enhancing Solute Transport in Immature Cartilage and Engineered Tissue Constructs
Ateshian, Gerard A.
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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating degenerative disease that afflicts an estimated 27 million Americans age 25 and older. This disease leads to the progressive degradation of the articular layers of diarthrodial joints, significantly compromising the main function of cartilage as a load bearing material, leading to pain and limiting activities of daily living. Cartilage functional tissue engineering is a highly promising technology that aims to provide a biological replacement to worn articular layers, as a modality that considerably expands the limited options in the treatment of this disease. Though cartilage degeneration is occasionally limited to small focal areas within articular layers, OA generally becomes symptomatic when degradation has spread over much greater surface areas (such as greater than 25 percent of the articular layer). Unfortunately, functional tissue engineering of large cartilage constructs is significantly constrained by the balance of nutrient transport and consumption. Several studies have shown that matrix deposition and elaboration of functional properties preferentially occurs near the periphery of constructs, where nutrient supply from the surrounding culture medium is most abundant, whereas cells in the interior receive less nutrients and produce less matrix, with poorer functional properties. In this presentation, we show that dynamic mechanical loading can enhance solute transport by up to an order of magnitude, and this enhancement can be considerably accelerated by placing channels in the constructs.