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In cartilage tissue engineering, the determination of the most appropriate cell/tissue culture conditions to maximize extracellular matrix synthesis is of major importance. The extracellular pH plays an important role in affecting energy metabolism and matrix synthesis by chondrocytes. In this study, chondrocytes were isolated from bovine articular cartilage, embedded in agarose gel, and cultured at varied pH levels (7.3-6.6). Rate of lactate production, total glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and collagen synthesis, as well as total cell numbers and cell viability were evaluated after culturing for up to 7 days. The results showed the rate of lactic acid production over the 7-day culture was significantly affected by extracellular pH; acidic pH markedly inhibited the production of lactate. Also, a biphasic response to extracellular pH in regard to total GAG synthesis was observed; the maximum synthesis was seen at pH 7.2. However, the collagen synthesis was not pH-dependent within the pH range explored. In addition, within the conditions studied, total cell numbers and cell viability were not significantly affected by extracellular pH. In conclusion, even minor changes in extracellular pH could markedly affect the metabolic activities and biosynthetic ability of chondrocytes. Consequently, the control of extracellular pH condition is crucially important for successful cartilage tissue engineering and for the study of chondrocyte physiology and functions.

Original publication




Journal article


Biotechnol Prog

Publication Date





430 - 434


Animals, Cartilage, Cattle, Cell Culture Techniques, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Chondrocytes, Culture Media, Extracellular Fluid, Extracellular Matrix, Gels, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Male, Sepharose, Tissue Engineering