Stem cell therapy for damaged cartilage suffers from low rates of retention, survival, and differentiation into chondrocytes at the target site. To solve these problems, here we propose a two-dimensional/three-dimensional (2D/3D) nanocomposite system. As a new two-dimensional (2D) material, hexagonal layered double hydroxides (LDHs) with a uniform lateral length of 2-3 μm were prepared by a hydrothermal process. Then, tonsil-derived mesenchymal stem cells (TMSCs), arginylglycylaspartic acid-coated LDHs, and kartogenin (KGN) were incorporated into the gel through the thermal-energy-driven gelation of the system. The cells exhibited a tendency to aggregate in the nanocomposite system. In particular, chondrogenic biomarkers of type II collagen and transcription factor SOX 9 significantly increased at both the mRNA and protein levels in the nanocomposite system, compared to the pure thermogel systems. The inorganic 2D materials increased the rigidity of the matrix, slowed down the release of a soluble factor (KGN), and improved cell-material interactions in the gel. The current 2D/3D nanocomposite system of bioactive LDH/thermogel can be a new platform material overcoming drawbacks of hydrogel-based 3D cell culture systems and is eventually expected to be applied as an injectable stem cell therapy.
- 3D culture
- chondrogenic differentiation
- layered double hydroxide (LDH)
- Solgel transition
- stem cell