In vitro characterization of mesenchymal stem cell-seeded collagen scaffolds for tendon repair: effects of initial seeding density on contraction kinetics.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were isolated from bone marrow, culture-expanded, and then seeded at 1, 4, and 8 million cells/mL onto collagen gel constructs designed to augment tendon repair in vivo. To investigate the effects of seeding density on the contraction kinetics and cellular morphology, the contraction of the cell/collagen constructs was monitored over time up to 72 h in culture conditions. Constructs seeded at 4 and 8 million cells/mL showed no significant differences in their gross appearance and dimensions throughout the contraction process. By contrast, constructs seeded at 1 million cells/mL initially contracted more slowly and their diameters at 72 h were 62 to 73% larger than those seeded at higher densities. During contraction, MSCs reoriented and elongated significantly with time. Implants prepared at higher seeding densities showed more well aligned and elongated cell nuclei after 72 h of contraction. Changes in nuclear morphology of the MSCs in response to physical constraints provided by the contracted collagen fibrils may trigger differentiation pathways toward the fibroblastic lineage and influence the cell synthetic activity. Controlling the contraction and organization of the cells and matrix will be critical for successfully creating tissue engineered grafts. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.