Human chondrocytes proliferate and produce matrix components in microcarrier suspension culture

C. Frondoza, A. Sohrabi, D. Hungerford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Chondrocytes propagated in monolayer culture proliferate and change into `fibroblastoid'-like cells. This change is characterized by a shift in production of collagen type II to I and from high- to low-molecular-weight proteoglycans. When propagated in three-dimensional culture, chondrocytes have limited ability to divide but re-express their original characteristics. The goal of the present study was to determine whether a microcarrier suspension culture system would support chondrocyte proliferation and phenotype expression. Our experiments indicate that a collagen type I microcarrier (cellagen) best supported chondrocyte proliferation and phenotype expression. Cells in cellagen microcarriers multiplied at least twentyfold within 2 weeks and had doubling times of 2 to 3 d. Viable and metabolically active cells were retrieved with ease. The harvested chondrocytes had no detectable staining for cellagen type I and stained intensely for collagen type II. Our studies demonstrate that the microcarrier suspension culture system supports growth and enhances expression of the `chondrocytic' phenotype. Attachment to a constrained surface and the fluid shear forces on the microcarriers during suspension culture may have helped chondrocytes to reacquire their rounded shape and produce cartilage matrix components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-888
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioreactor
  • Chondrocytes
  • Collagen
  • Microcarriers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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