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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Human telomerase reverse transcriptase and glucose-regulated protein 78 increase the life span of articular chondrocytes and their repair potential

Masato Sato1*, Kazuo Shin-ya2, Jeong Ik Lee3, Miya Ishihara4, Toshihiro Nagai1, Nagatoshi Kaneshiro1, Genya Mitani1, Hidetoshi Tahara5 and Joji Mochida1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Surgical Science, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa 259-1193, Japan

2 Biomedicinal Information Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), 2-42 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0064, Japan

3 Department of Biomedical Science & Technology, Institute of Biomedical Science & Technology (IBST), Konkuk University, 1 Hwang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-701, Korea

4 Department of Medical Engineering, National Defense Medical College, 3-2 Namiki, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-8513, Japan

5 Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 1-2-3 Kasumi, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 734-8553, Japan

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:51  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-51

Published: 2 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Like all mammalian cells, normal adult chondrocytes have a limited replicative life span, which decreases with age. To facilitate the therapeutic use of chondrocytes from older donors, a method is needed to prolong their life span.

Methods

We transfected chondrocytes with hTERT or GRP78 and cultured them in a 3-dimensional atelocollagen honeycomb-shaped scaffold with a membrane seal. Then, we measured the amount of nuclear DNA and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and the expression level of type II collagen as markers of cell proliferation and extracellular matrix formation, respectively, in these cultures. In addition, we allografted this tissue-engineered cartilage into osteochondral defects in old rabbits to assess their repair activity in vivo.

Results

Our results showed different degrees of differentiation in terms of GAG content between chondrocytes from old and young rabbits. Chondrocytes that were cotransfected with hTERT and GRP78 showed higher cellular proliferation and expression of type II collagen than those of nontransfected chondrocytes, regardless of the age of the cartilage donor. In addition, the in vitro growth rates of hTERT- or GRP78-transfected chondrocytes were higher than those of nontransfected chondrocytes, regardless of donor age. In vivo, the tissue-engineered cartilage implants exhibited strong repairing activity, maintained a chondrocyte-specific phenotype, and produced extracellular matrix components.

Conclusions

Focal gene delivery to aged articular chondrocytes exhibited strong repairing activity and may be therapeutically useful for articular cartilage regeneration.