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

2017   Volume No 33 – pages 76-89

Title: Biomimetic sulphated alginate hydrogels suppress IL-1β-induced inflammatory responses in human chondrocytes

Authors: Ø Arlov, E Öztürk, M Steinwachs, G Skjåk-Bræk, M Zenobi-Wong

Address: Cartilage Engineering & Regeneration, ETH Zürich, Otto-Stern-Weg 7, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland

E-mail: marcy.zenobi at

Key Words: Alginate gels, sulphated alginate, cartilage regeneration, human chondrocytes, inflammation.

Publication date: February 7th 2017

Abstract: Loss of articular cartilage from ageing, injury or degenerative disease is commonly associated with inflammation, causing pain and accelerating degradation of the cartilage matrix. Sulphated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are involved in the regulation of immune responses in vivo, and analogous polysaccharides are currently being evaluated for tissue engineering matrices to form a biomimetic environment promoting tissue growth while suppressing inflammatory and catabolic activities. Here, we characterise physical properties of sulphated alginate (S-Alg) gels for use in cartilage engineering scaffolds, and study their anti-inflammatory effects on encapsulated chondrocytes stimulated with IL-1β. Sulphation resulted in decreased storage modulus and increased swelling of alginate gels, whereas mixing highly sulphated alginate with unmodified alginate resulted in improved mechanical properties compared to gels from pure S-Alg. S-Alg gels showed extensive anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects on encapsulated chondrocytes induced by IL-1β. Cytokine-stimulated gene expression of pro-inflammatory markers IL-6, IL-8, COX-2 and aggrecanase ADAMTS-5 were significantly lower in the sulphated gels compared to unmodified alginate gels. Moreover, sulphation of the microenvironment suppressed the protein expression of COX-2 and NF-κB as well as the activation of NF-κB and p38-MAPK. The sulphated alginate matrices were found to interact with IL-1β, and proposed to inhibit inflammatory induction by sequestering cytokines from their receptors. This study shows promising potential for sulphated alginates in biomimetic tissue engineering scaffolds, by reducing cytokine-mediated inflammation and providing a protective microenvironment for encapsulated cells.

Article download: Pages 76-89 (PDF file)