Collagen Type II enhances chondrogenic differentiation in agarose-based modular microtissues

Ramkumar Tiruvannamalai Annamalai, David R. Mertz, Ethan L.H. Daley, Jan P. Stegemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background aims Cell-based therapies have made an impact on the treatment of osteoarthritis; however, the repair and regeneration of thick cartilage defects is an important and growing clinical problem. Next-generation therapies that combine cells with biomaterials may provide improved outcomes. We have developed modular microenvironments that mimic the composition of articular cartilage as a delivery system for consistently differentiated cells. Methods Human bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were embedded in modular microbeads consisting of agarose (AG) supplemented with 0%, 10% and 20% collagen Type II (COL-II) using a water-in-oil emulsion technique. AG and AG/COL-II microbeads were characterized in terms of their structural integrity, size distribution and protein content. The viability of embedded MSC and their ability to differentiate into osteogenic, adipogenic and chondrogenic lineages over 3 weeks in culture were also assessed. Results Microbeads made with <20% COL-II were robust, generally spheroidal in shape and 80 ± 10 µm in diameter. MSC viability in microbeads was consistently high over a week in culture, whereas viability in corresponding bulk hydrogels decreased with increasing COL-II content. Osteogenic differentiation of MSC was modestly supported in both AG and AG/COL-II microbeads, whereas adipogenic differentiation was strongly inhibited in COL-II containing microbeads. Chondrogenic differentiation of MSC was clearly promoted in microbeads containing COL-II, compared with pure AG matrices. Conclusions Inclusion of collagen Type II in agarose matrices in microbead format can potentiate chondrogenic differentiation of human MSC. Such compositionally tailored microtissues may find utility for cell delivery in next-generation cartilage repair therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-277
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 International Society for Cellular Therapy


  • Agarose
  • Biomaterials
  • Cartilage tissue engineering
  • Chondrogenesis
  • Collagen
  • Mesenchymal stromal cells
  • Microencapsulation
  • Modular tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Transplantation
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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