Interactions between mesenchymal stem cells and extracellular matrix have a regulatory function on differentiation of multipotent stem cells. Cues presented by native matrix can be exploited to design engineered scaffolds to induce in vitro differentiation. Hyaluronic acid is a native component of cartilage and mesenchymal stem cells interact via several cell surface receptors with hyaluronic acid. These interactions play role in cellular signaling and subsequent cartilage tissue development.
Here, first we design multivalent glyconanostructures using high-aspect-ratio self-assembled peptide nanofibers emulating hyaluronic acid function. Then, in vitro chondrogenic differentiation was analyzed on hyaluronic acid mimetic peptide nanofibers. Our results showed that peptide nanofibers induced early chondrogenic differentiation with respect to control groups. This early chondrogenesis was achieved through CD44, a primary receptor for hyaluronic acid, revealed by antibody inhibition assay. These results show that hyaluronic acid mimetic peptide nanofiber system provides a promising platform for stem-cell based cartilage regeneration.