Objective - To determine whether fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) treatment of equine mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) during monolayer expansion enhances subsequent chondrogenesis in a 3-dimensional culture system. Animals - 6 healthy horses, 6 months to 5 years of age. Procedures - Bone marrow-derived MSCs were obtained from 6 horses. First-passage MSCs were seeded as monolayers at 10,000 cells/cm2 and in medium containing 0, 1, 10, or 100 ng of FGF-2/mL. After 6 days, MSCs were transferred to pellet cultures (200,000 cells/pellet) and maintained in chondrogenic medium. Pellets were collected after 15 days. Pellets were analyzed for collagen type II content by use of an ELISA, total glycosaminoglycan content by use of the dimethylmethylene blue dye-binding assay, and DNA content by use of fluorometric quantification. Semiquantitative PCR assay was performed to assess relative concentrations of collagen type II and aggrecan mRNAs. Results - Use of 100 ng of FGF-2/mL significantly increased pellet DNA and glycosaminoglycan content. Collagen type II content of the pellet was also increased by use of 10 and 100 ng of FGF-2/mL. Collagen type II and aggrecan mRNA transcripts were increased by treatment with FGF-2. Some control samples had minimal evidence of collagen type II and aggrecan transcripts after 35 cycles of amplification. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - FGF-2 treatment of bone marrow-derived MSC monolayers enhanced subsequent chondrogenic differentiation in a 3-dimensional culture. This result is important for tissue engineering strategies dependent on MSC expansion for cartilage repair.
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