The native extracellular matrix of cartilage contains entrapped growth factors as well as tissue-specific epitopes for cell-matrix interactions, which make it a potentially attractive biomaterial for cartilage tissue engineering. A limitation to this approach is that the native cartilage extracellular matrix possesses a pore size of only a few nanometers, which inhibits cellular infiltration. Efforts to increase the pore size of cartilage-derived matrix (CDM) scaffolds dramatically attenuate their mechanical properties, which makes them susceptible to cell-mediated contraction. In previous studies, we have demonstrated that collagen crosslinking techniques are capable of preventing cell-mediated contraction in CDM disks. In the current study, we investigated the effects of CDM concentration and pore architecture on the ability of CDM scaffolds to resist cell-mediated contraction. Increasing CDM concentration significantly increased scaffold mechanical properties, which played an important role in preventing contraction, and only the highest CDM concentration (11% w/w) was able to retain the original scaffold dimensions. However, the increase in CDM concentration led to a concomitant decrease in porosity and pore size. Generating a temperature gradient during the freezing process resulted in unidirectional freezing, which aligned the formation of ice crystals during the freezing process and in turn produced aligned pores in CDM scaffolds. These aligned pores increased the pore size of CDM scaffolds at all CDM concentrations, and greatly facilitated infiltration by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These methods were used to fabricate of anatomically-relevant CDM hemispheres. CDM hemispheres with aligned pores supported uniform MSC infiltration and matrix deposition. Furthermore, these CDM hemispheres retained their original architecture and did not contract, warp, curl, or splay throughout the entire 28-day culture period. These findings demonstrate that given the appropriate fabrication parameters, CDM scaffolds are capable of maintaining complex structures that support MSC chondrogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Articular cartilage
  • Cell-mediated contraction
  • Decellularization
  • Ice-templating
  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Tissue engineering


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