Impact of endotoxins in gelatine hydrogels on chondrogenic differentiation and inflammatory cytokine secretion in vitro

Wilhelmina M G A C Groen, Lizette Utomo, Miguel Castilho, Debby Gawlitta, Jos Malda, P René van Weeren, Riccardo Levato, Nicoline M Korthagen

Published: 2 November 2020

Gelatine methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogels are widely used in studies aimed at cartilage regeneration. However, the endotoxin content of commercially available GelMAs and gelatines used in these studies is often overlooked, even though endotoxins may influence several cellular functions. Moreover, regulations for clinical use of biomaterials dictate a stringent endotoxin limit. We determined the endotoxin level of five different GelMAs and evaluated the effect on the chondrogenic differentiation of equine mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). Cartilage-like matrix production was evaluated by biochemical assays and immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, equine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were cultured on the hydrogels for 24 h, followed by the assessment of tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and C–C motif chemokine ligand (CCL)2 as inflammatory markers. The GelMAs were found to have widely varying endotoxin content (two with >1000 EU/mL and three with <10 EU/mL), however, this was not a critical factor determining in vitro cartilage-like matrix production of embedded MSCs. PBMCs did produce significantly higher TNF-α and CCL2 in response to the GelMA with the highest endotoxin level compared to the other GelMAs. Although limited effects on chondrogenic differentiation were found in this study, caution with the use of commercial hydrogels is warranted in the translation from in vitro to in vivo studies because of regulatory constraints and potential inflammatory effects of the content of these hydrogels.

Full Access Link: International Journal of Molecular Sciences