eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2016   Volume No 31 – pages 382-394

Title: Streamlined bioreactor-based production of human cartilage tissues

Authors: B Tonnarelli, R Santoro, M Adelaide Asnaghi, D Wendt

Address: Institute for Surgical Research and Hospital Management, University Hospital Basel, Hebelstrasse 20, 4031 Basel, Switzerland

E-mail: david.wendt at

Key Words: Bioreactor, tissue engineering, proliferation, differentiation, scaffolds, chondrocyte, cartilage, culture (2D/3D).

Publication date: May 27th 2016

Abstract: Engineered tissue grafts have been manufactured using methods based predominantly on traditional labour-intensive manual benchtop techniques. These methods impart significant regulatory and economic challenges, hindering the successful translation of engineered tissue products to the clinic. Alternatively, bioreactor-based production systems have the potential to overcome such limitations. In this work, we present an innovative manufacturing approach to engineer cartilage tissue within a single bioreactor system, starting from freshly isolated human primary chondrocytes, through the generation of cartilaginous tissue grafts. The limited number of primary chondrocytes that can be isolated from a small clinically-sized cartilage biopsy could be seeded and extensively expanded directly within a 3D scaffold in our perfusion bioreactor (5.4  ± 0.9 doublings in 2 weeks), bypassing conventional 2D expansion in flasks. Chondrocytes expanded in 3D scaffolds better maintained a chondrogenic phenotype than chondrocytes expanded on plastic flasks (collagen type II mRNA, 18-fold; Sox-9, 11-fold). After this “3D expansion” phase, bioreactor culture conditions were changed to subsequently support chondrogenic differentiation for two weeks. Engineered tissues based on 3D-expanded chondrocytes were more cartilaginous than tissues generated from chondrocytes previously expanded in flasks. We then demonstrated that this streamlined bioreactor-based process could be adapted to effectively generate up-scaled cartilage grafts in a size with clinical relevance (50 mm diameter). Streamlined and robust tissue engineering processes, as the one described here, may be key for the future manufacturing of grafts for clinical applications, as they facilitate the establishment of compact and closed bioreactor-based production systems, with minimal automation requirements, lower operating costs, and increased compliance to regulatory guidelines.

Article download: Pages 382-394 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v031a24