Folic acid pretreatment and its sustained delivery for chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs

Yuna Moon, Madhumita Patel, Soyoun Um, Hyun Jung Lee, Sohee Park, Soo Bong Park, Sun Shin Cha, Byeongmoon Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Dietary uptake of folic acid (FA) improves cartilage regeneration. In this work, we discovered that three days of FA treatment is highly effective for promoting chondrogenic differentiation of tonsil-derived mesenchymal stem cells (TMSCs). In a three-dimensional pellet culture, the levels of typical chondrogenic biomarkers, sulfated glycosaminoglycan, proteoglycan, type II collagen (COL II), SRY box transcription factor 9 (SOX 9), cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), and aggrecan (ACAN) increased significantly in proportion to FA concentration up to 30 μM. At the mRNA expression level, COL II, SOX 9, COMP, and ACAN increased 3.6–6.0-fold with FA treatment at 30 μM compared with the control system that did not receive FA treatment, and the levels with FA treatment were 1.6–2.5 times greater than those in the kartogenin-treated positive control system. FA treatment did not increase type I collagen α1 (COL I α1), an osteogenic biomarker which is a concern with most chondrogenic promoters. At the high FA concentration of 100 μM, significant decreases in chondrogenic biomarkers were observed, which might be related to DNA methylation. A thermogel system incorporating TMSCs and FA provided sustained release of FA over several days, similar to the FA treatment. The thermogel system confirmed the efficacy of FA in promoting chondrogenic promotion of TMSCs. The increased nuclear translocation of core-binding factor β subunit (CBFβ) and the runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) expression after FA treatment, together with molecular docking studies, suggest that the chondrogenic enhancement mechanism of FA is mediated by CBFβ and RUNX1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-130
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Chondrogenic differentiation
  • Drug delivery system
  • Folic acid
  • In silico model
  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Thermogel


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