Glycosaminoglycan-Mimetic Signals Direct the Osteo/Chondrogenic Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in a Three-Dimensional Peptide Nanofiber Extracellular Matrix Mimetic Environment
Recent efforts in bioactive scaffold development focus strongly on the elucidation of complex cellular responses through the use of synthetic systems. Designing synthetic extracellular matrix (ECM) materials must be based on understanding of cellular behaviors upon interaction with natural and artificial scaffolds. Hence, due to their ability to mimic both the biochemical and mechanical properties of the native tissue environment, supramolecular assemblies of bioactive peptide nanostructures are especially promising for development of bioactive ECM-mimetic scaffolds. In this study, we used glycosaminoglycan (GAG) mimetic peptide nanofiber gel as a three-dimensional (3D) platform to investigate how cell lineage commitment is altered by external factors. We observed that amount of fetal bovine serum (FBS) presented in the cell media had synergistic effects on the ability of GAG-mimetic nanofiber gel to mediate the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteogenic and chondrogenic lineages. In particular, lower FBS concentration in the culture medium was observed to enhance osteogenic differentiation while higher amount FBS promotes chondrogenic differentiation in tandem with the effects of the GAG-mimetic 3D peptide nanofiber network, even in the absence of externally administered growth factors. We therefore demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cell differentiation can be specifically controlled by the combined influence of growth medium components and a 3D peptide nanofiber environment.