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

2011   Volume No 22 – pages 302-320

Title: Differential effects of dexamethasone on the chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stromal cells: Influence of microenvironment, tissue origin and growth factor

Author: N Shintani, EB Hunziker

Address: Center of Regenerative Medicine for Skeletal Tissues, Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

E-mail: ernst.hunziker at

Key Words: Mesenchymal stromal cells, dexamethasone, synovium, bone marrow, chondrogenesis.

Publication date: November 24th 2011

Abstract: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), which reside within various tissues, are utilized in the engineering of cartilage tissue. Dexamethasone (DEX) – a synthetic glucocorticoid – is almost invariably applied to potentiate the growth-factor-induced chondrogenesis of MSCs in vitro, albeit that this effect has been experimentally demonstrated only for transforming-growth-factor-beta (TGF-β)-stimulated bone-marrow-derived MSCs. Clinically, systemic glucocorticoid therapy is associated with untoward side effects (e.g., bone loss and increased susceptibility to infection). Hence, the use of these agents should be avoided or limited. We hypothesize that the influence of DEX on the chondrogenesis of MSCs depends upon their tissue origin and microenvironment [absence or presence of an extracellular matrix (ECM)], as well as upon the nature of the growth factor. We investigated its effects upon the TGF-β1- and bone-morphogenetic-protein 2 (BMP-2)-induced chondrogenesis of MSCs as a function of tissue source (bone marrow vs. synovium) and microenvironment [cell aggregates (no ECM) vs. explants (presence of a natural ECM)]. In aggregates of bone-marrow-derived MSCs, DEX enhanced TGF-β1-induced chondrogenesis by an up-regulation of cartilaginous genes, but had little influence on the BMP-2-induced response. In aggregates of synovial MSCs, DEX exerted no remarkable effect on either TGF-β1- or BMP-2-induced chondrogenesis. In synovial explants, DEX inhibited BMP-2-induced chondrogenesis almost completely, but had little impact on the TGF-β1-induced response. Our data reveal that steroids are not indispensable for the chondrogenesis of MSCs in vitro. Their influence is context dependent (tissue source of the MSCs, their microenvironment and the nature of the growth-factor). This finding has important implications for MSC based approaches to cartilage repair.

Article download: Pages 302-320 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v022a23