Analysis of tissue development from multidisciplinary approaches can result in more integrative biological findings, and can eventually allow the development of more effective bioengineering methods. In this study, we analyzed the initial steps of mineral formation during secondary ossification of mouse femur based on biological and bioengineering approaches. We first found that some chondrocytes burst near the mineralized area. External factors that could trigger chondrocyte burst were then investigated. Chondrocyte burst was shown to be modulated by mechanical and osmotic pressure. A hypotonic solution, as well as mechanical stress, significantly induced chondrocyte burst. We further hypothesized that chondrocyte burst could be associated with space-making for mineral expansion. In fact, ex vivo culture of femur epiphysis in hypotonic conditions, or under mechanical pressure, enhanced mineral formation, compared to normal culture conditions. Additionally, the effect of mechanical pressure on bone formation in vivo was investigated by immobilization of mouse lower limbs to decrease the body pressure onto the joints. The results showed that limb immobilization suppressed bone formation. Together, these results suggest chondrocyte burst as a novel fate of chondrocytes, and that manipulation of chondrocyte burst with external mechano-chemical stimuli could be an additional approach for cartilage and bone tissue engineering.
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