Bioinspired nanofibers support chondrogenesis for articular cartilage repair

Jeannine M. Coburn, Matthew Gibson, Sean Monagle, Zachary Patterson, Jennifer H. Elisseeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Articular cartilage repair remains a significant and growing clinical challenge with the aging population. The native extracellular matrix (ECM) of articular cartilage is a 3D structure composed of proteinaceous fibers and a hydrogel ground substance that together provide the physical and biological cues to instruct cell behavior. Herewe present fibrous scaffolds composed of poly(vinyl alcohol) and the biological cue chondroitin sulfate with fiber dimensions on the nanoscale for application to articular cartilage repair. The unique, low-density nature of the described nanofiber scaffolds allows for immediate cell infiltration for optimal tissue repair. The capacity for the scaffolds to facilitate cartilage-like tissue formation was evaluated in vitro. Compared with pellet cultures, the nanofiber scaffolds enhance chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stems cells as indicated by increased ECM production and cartilage specific gene expression while also permitting cell proliferation. When implanted into rat osteochondral defects, acellular nanofiber scaffolds supported enhanced chondrogenesis marked by proteoglycan production minimally apparent in defects left empty. Furthermore, inclusion of chondroitin sulfate into the fibers enhanced cartilage-specific type II collagen synthesis in vitro and in vivo. By mimicking physical and biological cues of native ECM, the nanofiber scaffolds enhanced cartilaginous tissue formation, suggesting their potential utility for articular cartilage repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10012-10017
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 19 2012


  • Biomaterials
  • Electrospin
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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