Culture of equine fibroblast-like synoviocytes on synthetic tissue scaffolds towards meniscal tissue engineering: A preliminary cell-seeding study

Jennifer J. Warnock, Derek B. Fox, Aaron M. Stoker, Mark Beatty, Mary Cockrell, John C. Janicek, James L. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Tissue engineering is a new methodology for addressing meniscal injury or loss. Synovium may be an ideal source of cells for in vitro meniscal fibrocartilage formation, however, favorable in vitro culture conditions for synoviummust be established in order to achieve this goal. The objective of this study was to determine cellularity, cell distribution, and extracellular matrix (ECM) formation of equine fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) cultured on synthetic scaffolds, for potential application in synovium-based meniscal tissue engineering. Scaffolds included open-cell poly-L-lactic acid (OPLA) sponges and polyglycolic acid (PGA) scaffolds cultured in static and dynamic culture conditions, and PGA scaffolds coated in poly-L-lactic (PLLA) in dynamic culture conditions. Materials and Methods: Equine FLS were seeded on OPLA and PGA scaffolds, and cultured in a static environment or in a rotating bioreactor for 12 days. Equine FLS were also seeded on PGA scaffolds coated in 2% or 4% PLLA and cultured in a rotating bioreactor for 14 and 21 days. Three scaffolds from each group were fixed, sectioned and stained withMasson's Trichrome, Safranin-O, and Hematoxylin and Eosin, and cell numbers and distribution were analyzed using computer image analysis. Three PGA and OPLA scaffolds fromeach culture condition were also analyzed for extracellular matrix (ECM) production via dimethylmethylene blue (sulfated glycosaminoglycan) assay and hydroxyproline (collagen) assay. PLLA coated PGA scaffolds were analyzed using double stranded DNA quantification as areflection of cellularity and confocal laser microscopy in a fluorescent cell viability assay. Results: The highest cellularity occurred in PGA constructs cultured in a rotating bioreactor, which also had a mean sulfated glycosaminoglycan content of 22.3 μg per scaffold. PGA constructs cultured in static conditions had the lowest cellularity. Cells had difficulty adhering to OPLA and the PLLA coating of PGA scaffolds; cellularity was inversely proportional to the concentration of PLLA used. PLLA coating did not prevent dissolution of the PGA scaffolds. All cell scaffold types and culture conditions produced non-uniformcellular distribution. Discussion/Conclusion: FLS-seeding of PGA scaffolds cultured in a rotating bioreactor resulted in the most optimal cell and matrix characteristics seen in this study. Cells grew only in the pores of the OPLA sponge, and could not adhere to the PLLA coating of PGA scaffold, due to the hydrophobic property of PLA.While PGA culture in a bioreactor produced measureable GAG, no culture technique produced visible collagen. For this reason, and due to the dissolution of PGA scaffolds, the culture conditions and scaffolds described here are not recommended for inducing fibrochondrogenesis in equine FLS for meniscal tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere353
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Bioreactors
  • Cell scaffolds
  • Equine
  • Fibroblast-like synoviocytes
  • Meniscus
  • Stifle
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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