Chondrogenesis involves the recruitment of mesenchymal cells to differentiate into chondroblasts, and also the cells must synthesize a cartilage-specific extracellular matrix. There were two representative culture systems that promoted the chondrogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells. These systems were adaptations of the "pellet" culture system, which was originally described as a method for preventing the phenotypic modulation of chondrocytes, and the "alginate bead" culture system, which was used to maintain encapsulated cells at their differentiated phenotype over time, and also it was used to maintain the cells' proteoglycan synthesis at a rate similar to that of primary chondrocytes. We performed test on the differences of phenotypic characterization with the two methods of differentiating human mesenchymal stem cells into chondrocytes. The typical gene for articular cartilage, collagen type II, was more strongly expressed in the "alginate bead" system than in the "pellet" culture system, in addition, specific gene for hypertrophic cartilage, collagen type X, was more rapidly expressed in the "pellet" system than in "alginate bead" culture system. Therefore, the "alginate bead" culture system is a more phenotypical, practical and appropriate system to differentiate human mesenchymal stem cells into articular chondrocytes than the "pellet" culture system.
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