• human mesenchymal stem cell;
  • three-dimensional collagen gel;
  • osteogenesis;
  • chondrogenesis


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have a great therapeutic potential resulting from their ability to differentiate into multiple tissues when cultured under specific conditions. However, it has not been clearly demonstrated whether or not MSCs exhibit a multidifferentiation potential in three-dimensional collagen gel cultures. This study was conducted to explore the multidifferentiation potential of MSCs cultured in three-dimensional collagen gels. Human MSCs were cultured in 0.3% collagen gel for 20 days in chondrogenic differentiation medium (CDM), and for 14 days in osteogenic differentiation medium (ODM). Increases in GAG deposits, intensity of toluidine blue staining, and mRNA expressions of chondrogenic markers (type II collagen and type X collagen) were found in human MSCs cultured in the collagen gel maintained in CDM. Positive staining for alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and alizarin red, and increases in mRNA expressions of osteogenic markers (type I collagen, bone sialoprotein and ALP) were noted in the MSCs maintained in ODM. These findings emphasize that human MSCs have an ability to differentiate into both bone and cartilaginous tissues in three-dimensional collagen gel cultures, indicating potential clinical applications of MSC transplant therapy with collagen gel as a scaffold for bone or cartilage regeneration in complicated tissue defects. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2005