Investigating the effect of peptide agonists on the chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells using design of experiments



Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are attractive for use in cartilage tissue engineering. Cells are often seeded in a structural scaffold containing growth factors. Peptide mimics of full-length growth factors are a promising alternative because they are less expensive and easier to manufacture. We investigated four short peptides for their effect on the chondrogenesis of human MSCs. The peptides were originally designed to mimic bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1), and insulin, all of which have been shown to affect MSC chondrogenesis. Previous studies demonstrated that the peptides elicited bioactivity in other cell types, but the peptides have not been investigated for their effect on chondrogenesis in human MSCs. In a preliminary investigation, peptides were added to a pellet culture of human MSCs and assayed for their effect on glycosaminoglycan (GAG) production. These experiments determined peptide concentrations used in a full-factorial experiment to investigate any interactions. The experiment revealed the BMP peptide as a robust stimulant for GAG production. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 29:1550–1557, 2013