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Tissue engineering of cartilage for tissue repair has many challenges, including the inability to assess when the developing construct has reached compositional maturity for implantation. The goal of this study was to provide a novel analytical approach to nondestructively assess tissue engineered cartilage (TEC) during in vitro development. We applied attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy to establish a quick and straightforward method to evaluate consumption of glucose and secretion of the metabolite lactate in the culture media, processes that are associated with tissue development. Using a series of standards, we showed by principal component analysis (PCA) that ATR-FTIR data was able to distinguish culture media with varying amounts of glucose and lactate. The 2nd derivative spectra displayed specific peaks of glucose at 1035 cm-1 and lactate at 1122 cm-1, and both the spectral first principal component (PC-1) scores and the 1122/1035 peak ratio very strongly correlated with the concentration of these components. TEC was prepared using chondrogenic cells grown in hydrogels, and analyzed for cell viability, distribution, and formation of proteoglycan (PG, a major cartilage protein). ATR-FTIR data of the cell culture media harvested during TEC development showed that the spectral PC-1 and the 1122/1035 peak ratio could significantly distinguish cultures with different amounts of constructs (1, 3 or 5 constructs per well) or with constructs at different developmental stages (3 or 5 weeks of culture). Interestingly, we also found that the PG content of the TEC was significantly correlated with both spectral PC-1 (r = -0.79) and the 1122/1035 peak ratio (r = 0.80). Therefore, monitoring relative glucose and lactate concentrations in cell culture media by ATR-FTIR provides a novel nondestructive approach to assess development of TEC.


William Querido, Sabrina Zouaghi, Mugdha Padalkar, Justin Morman, Jessica Falcon, Shital Kandel, Nancy Pleshko. Nondestructive assessment of tissue engineered cartilage based on biochemical markers in cell culture media: application of attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. The Analyst. 2022 Apr 11;147(8):1730-1741

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PMID: 35343541

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