Chondrocyte redifferentiation and construct mechanical property development in single-component photocrosslinkable hydrogels

Peter A. Levett, Ferry P W Melchels, Karsten Schrobback, Dietmar W. Hutmacher, Jos Malda, Travis J. Klein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogels are promising materials for cartilage repair, but the properties required for optimal functional outcomes are not yet known. In this study, we functionalized four materials that are commonly used in cartilage tissue engineering and evaluated them using in vitro cultures. Gelatin, hyaluronic acid, polyethylene glycol, and alginate were functionalized with methacrylic anhydride to make them photocrosslinkable. We found that the responses of encapsulated human chondrocytes were highly dependent on hydrogel type. Gelatin hydrogels supported cell proliferation and the deposition of a glycosaminoglycan rich matrix with significant mechanical functionality. However, cells had a dedifferentiated phenotype, with high expression of collagen type I. Chondrocytes showed the best redifferentiation in hyaluronic acid hydrogels, but the newly formed matrix was highly localized to the pericellular regions, and these gels degraded rapidly. Polyethylene glycol hydrogels, as a bioinert control, did not promote any strong responses. Alginate hydrogels did not support the deposition of new matrix, and the stiffness decreased during culture. The markedly different response of chondrocytes to these four photocrosslinkable hydrogels demonstrates the importance of material properties for chondrogenesis and extracellular matrix production, which are critical for effective cartilage repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2544-2553
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A
Issue number8
Early online date2 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • cartilage
  • chondrogenesis
  • hydrogels
  • photopolymerization
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Metals and Alloys
  • General Medicine


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