Jet Peters

PhD student

Project description Jet Peters

Engineering Collagen Architecture

Articular cartilage is highly specified tissue with unique mechanical properties. These mechanical properties result from the extracellular matrix (ECM) components: the complex architecture of the collagen network, proteoglycans and water in the tissue. Collagen fibers extend millimeters from the underlying bone to bend over to lay flat on the articular surface forming the unique Benninghof arcade architecture. To achieve the desired properties in tissue engineered constructs, the development of a proper collagen structure is key to whether the tissue will function properly and not eventually break down. However, the mechanism responsible for the formation of the distinctive arcades has never been demonstrated nor replicated in tissue engineered cartilage.

We aim to identify the postnatal growth mechanism of the collagen architecture, using previously developed cartilage organoid models. To understand the influence of the physical-chemical environment in tissue growth, the growth process will be perturbed in an in vitro culture system to create varying collagen architectures. Consequently, smart biomaterials will be used to create unique tissue growth environments to guide the formation of the desired collagen structures and will be applied in ex vivo osteochondral explant bioreactor systems to simulate the in situ cartilage regeneration.

Keywords: cartilage, collagen architecture, tissue growth

Techniques: Cell isolation and culture, 3D cell culture, biochemical assays, microscopy, immunohistochemistry, mechanical stimulation and evaluation.