Agarose has been used as a model scaffold for cartilage tissue engineering research due to its maintenance of chondrocyte phenotype, support of cartilage tissue development, and ability to transmit mechanical stimuli [1–4]. In a previous study, the temporal application of TGF-β3 for only 2 weeks resulted in explosive growth in the functional properties of tissue engineered cartilage [5]. The role of scaffolds in tissue engineering includes providing a physiologic three-dimensional environment for cells, decreased path lengths for diffusion and retention of cell elaborated matrix. In past studies by our laboratory, it was hypothesized that the scaffold properties in engineered cartilage plays a crucial role in the retention of synthesized glycosaminoglycan (GAG) molecules, a major extracellular matrix constituent of articular cartilage [6, 7]. This study focuses on testing this hypothesis using 3%, 2%, and 1% (wt/vol) agarose as scaffolds for engineered cartilage.

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