The role of energy dissipation of polymeric scaffolds in the mechanobiological modulation of chondrogenic expression
Mechanical stimulation has been proposed to induce chondrogenesis in cell-seeded scaffold. However, the effects of mechanical stimuli on engineered cartilage may vary substantially between different scaffolds. This advocates for the need to identify an overarching mechanobiological variable. We hypothesize that energy dissipation of scaffolds subjected to dynamic loading may be used as a mechanobiology variable. The energy dissipation would furnish a general criterion to adjust the mechanical stimulation favoring chondrogenesis in scaffold. Epiphyseal chondro-progenitor cells were then subject to unconfined compression two hours per day during four days in different scaffolds, which differ only by the level of dissipation they generated while keeping the same loading conditions. Scaffolds with higher dissipation levels upregulated the mRNA of chondrogenic markers. In contrast lower dissipation of scaffolds was associated with downregulation of chondrogenic markers. These results showed that energy dissipation could be considered as a mechanobiology variable in cartilage. This study also indicated that scaffold with energy dissipation level close to the one of cartilage favors chondrogenic expression when dynamical loading is present.