Loss of cartilaginous phenotype during in vitro expansion culture of chondrocytes is a major barrier to the application of chondrocytes for tissue engineering. In previous study, we showed that dedifferentiation of chondrocytes during the passage culture was delayed by matrices formed by primary chondrocytes (P0-ECM). In this study, we investigated bovine chondrocyte functions when being cultured on isolated extracellular matrix (ECM) protein-coated substrata and P0-ECM. Low chondrocyte attachment was observed on aggrecan-coated substratum and P0-ECM. Cell proliferation on aggrecan- and type II collagen/aggrecan-coated substrata and P0-ECM was lower than that on the other ECM protein (type I collagen and type II collagen)-coated substrata. When chondrocytes were subcultured on aggrecan-coated substratum, decline of cartilaginous gene expression was delayed, which was similar to the cells subcultured on P0-ECM. These results indicate that aggrecan plays an important role in the regulation of chondrocyte functions and P0-ECM may be a good experimental control for investigating the role of each ECM protein in cartilage ECM. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1331–1336, 2013
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