• Chondrogenesis;
  • In vitro differentiation;
  • Mouse embryonic stem cells;
  • Pluripotency;
  • Differentiation potential


Pluripotent mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells differentiate in vitro spontaneously into cell types of all three primary germ layers when cultivated as cell aggregates, so-called ‘embryoid bodies’. Many reports have shown that this system recapitulates cellular developmental processes and gene expression patterns of early embryogenesis. During ES cell differentiation, efficient and directed differentiation into a specific cell type is influenced by many parameters, for example, the batch of the serum used or the application of growth factors and signalling molecules. Because all ES cell lines are considered to be pluripotent, one should not expect remarkable differences regarding their spontaneous differentiation efficiencies. However, here we show that different ES cell lines exhibit a variable degree of spontaneous chondrogenic differentiation indicating that lines with a specific differentiation capacity could be selected. This is an important aspect if ES cells are applied for tissue regeneration.