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Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal

Spheroid formation and modulation of tenocyte-specific gene expression under simulated microgravity

Original Article, 411 - 417
doi: 10.11138/mltj/2017.7.3.411
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Abstract
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Background: For tendon tissue engineering, tenocyte-seeded scaffolds are a promising approach.
Under conventional 2D culture however, tenocytes show rapid senescene and phenotype loss.
We hypothesized that phenotype loss could be counteracted by simulated microgravity conditions.
Methods: Human tenocytes were exposed to microgravity for 9 days on a Random Positioning Machine (RPM). Formation of 3D-structures (spheroids) was observed under light microscopy, gene expression was measured by realtime PCR. Cells under conventional 2D-culture served as control group.
Results: Simulated microgravity reached a value of as low as 0.003g. Spheroid formation was observed after 4 days, and spheroids showed stable existance to the end of the observation period. After 9 days, spheroids showed a significantly higher gene expression of collagen 1 (Col1A1) compared to adherent cells under microgravity (4.4x, p=0.04) and compared to the control group (5.6x, p=0.02). Gene expression of collagen 3 (COL3A1) was significantly increased in spheroids compared to the control group (2.3x, p=0.03). Gene expressions of the extracellular matrix genes
Tenascin C und Fibronectin (TNC and FN) were increased in adherent cells under microgravity compared to the 1g-control group, not reaching statistical significance (p=0.1 and p=0.3). For the gene expression of vimentin, no significant alteration was observed both in the adherent cells and in the spheroids compared to the 1g control group. Gene expression of the tenocyte-specific transcription factor scleraxis (SCX) was significantly increased in spheroids compared to the control group (3.7x, p=0.03).
Conclusion: Simulated microgravity could counteract tenocyte senescence in vitro and serve as a promising model for scaffold-free 3D cell culturing and tissue engineering.
Level of evidence: V (laboratory study).

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