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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 2030478, 12 pages
Research Article

Calcium/Cobalt Alginate Beads as Functional Scaffolds for Cartilage Tissue Engineering

1Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy
2Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy

Received 30 July 2015; Revised 6 October 2015; Accepted 18 October 2015

Academic Editor: Malin Jonsson

Copyright © 2016 Stefano Focaroli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Articular cartilage is a highly organized tissue with complex biomechanical properties. However, injuries to the cartilage usually lead to numerous health concerns and often culminate in disabling symptoms, due to the poor intrinsic capacity of this tissue for self-healing. Although various approaches are proposed for the regeneration of cartilage, its repair still represents an enormous challenge for orthopedic surgeons. The field of tissue engineering currently offers some of the most promising strategies for cartilage restoration, in which assorted biomaterials and cell-based therapies are combined to develop new therapeutic regimens for tissue replacement. The current study describes the in vitro behavior of human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hADSCs) encapsulated within calcium/cobalt (Ca/Co) alginate beads. These novel chondrogenesis-promoting scaffolds take advantage of the synergy between the alginate matrix and Co+2 ions, without employing costly growth factors (e.g., transforming growth factor betas (TGF-βs) or bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs)) to direct hADSC differentiation into cartilage-producing chondrocytes.