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Abstract

The effects of fetal bovine serum, insulin-like growth factor-I, and fibnoblast growth factor-2 on the regulation of the functional physical properties of adult bovine cartilage explants during an incubation period of 18–20 days was determined, and the relationship between the measured functional properties of the cartilage and the tissue composition was assessed. Cartilage disks were tested in the uniaxial radially confined configuration by the application of low amplitude oscillatory displacement and measurement of the resultant load and streaming potential. For the control cartilage terminated just after explant, the modulus was 0.39 ± 0.28 MPa, the open circuit hydraulic permeability was 2.0 ± 1.0 × 10−15 m2/(Pa•c), and the electrokinetic (streaming potential) coefficient was −2.3 ± 0.6 mV/MPa. Incubation of cartilage in medium supplemented with serum or insulin-like growth factor-I resulted in maintenance of the modulus and electrokinetic coefficient, whereas incubation in basal medium or medium supplemented with fibroblast growth factor-2 led to a marked decrease from control values in the modulus and the amplitude of the electrokinetic coefficient. All of the culture conditions examined resulted in an increase in permeability that was not statistically significant. The variation in the electromechanical properties of all the cartilage samples tested was related to the density of tissue proteoglycan and collagen (hydroxyproline). The modulus was correlated with both the density of tissue proteoglycan (+0.014 MPa/[mg/ml]) and the density of tissue hydroxyproline (+0.008 MPa/[mg/ml]). The electrokinetic coefficient was also correlated with the density of proteoglycan (−0.080 [mV/MPa]/[mg/ml]) and the density of hydroxyproline (+0.064 [mV/MPa]/[mg/ml]). These data indicate that the regulation of chondrocyte matrix metabolism by growth factors can significantly affect the physical properties and function of cartilage.