Optimizing the Production of Stem-cell-based Cartilage for Arthritis Treatment

Primary Author: Olivia Reynolds

Faculty Sponsor: Bernard Van Wie


Primary College/Unit: Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

Category: Engineering and Environmental Science

Campus: Pullman




Principle topic

Osteoarthritis (OA), the degradation of articular cartilage tissue which lines joints, affects 30 million adults in the United States. There are few effective treatment options for OA; however, stem-cell-based therapy is a promising emerging treatment as stem cells can form new healthy cartilage. The use of chemical growth factors and anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as the co-culture of stem cells with native cartilage cells can enhance cartilage formation and promote the production of critical structural proteins such as glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and collagen. However, the optimum combination of these factors is unknown. Thus, this work investigated the combined roles of the growth factor dexamethasone, the anti-inflammatory compound alpha-tocopherol, and the ratio of stem cells to cartilage cells in an effort to determine an optimum combination and improve the quality of engineered cartilage tissue.



In this work, dexamethasone concentration, alpha-tocopherol concentration, and stem cell percentage were varied using a Box-Behnken fractional factorial design scheme. Following 21 days of cell culture, total collagen, GAG, and DNA were measured for each experimental group to quantify the amount of cartilage-specific proteins produced. Data were analyzed to determine the culture conditions which resulted in the maximum quantity of collagen and GAG as these proteins indicate cartilage formation.



The results of this study showed that the highest protein production occurred at low stem cell percentages, low to moderate anti-inflammatory concentrations, and moderate growth factor concentration. These results may be used to improve the production of cartilage for applications in OA treatment.