Oxygen tension plays an important role in skeletal development and is becoming increasingly relevant to skeletal regenerative medicine. Chondrocytes are adapted to hypoxic environments in vivo which suggests that controlling the level of oxygen will be necessary for successful cartilage tissue engineering.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are key components of cells’ mechanism for sensing and responding to low oxygen environments. Furthermore, cellular events such as glucose metabolism, angiogenesis, proliferation and differentiation are downstream of these transcription factors, so that HIFs could be interesting targets for controlling the stem cell fate towards chondrogenesis.
We are interested in investigating the hypoxic response of HIFs and their downstream targets during chondrogenesis of stem cells. One of our approaches is transfection of stem cells/chondrocytes with oxygen-stabilized HIF constructs to mimic the cellular responses of hypoxia under normoxic conditions. Engineered functional cartilage tissue with controlled and stable phenotype could be used for implantation in clinical applications.
University of Zürich,
Institute of Veterinary Physiology
Dr. Markus Thiersch
Phone: +41 44 635 88 16