The present work described a bio-functionalized 3D fibrous construct, as an interactive teno-inductive graft model to study tenogenic potential events of human mesenchymal stem cells collected from Wharton’s Jelly (hWJ-MSCs). The 3D-biomimetic and bioresorbable scaffold was functionalized with nanocarriers for the local controlled delivery of a teno-inductive factor, i.e., the human Growth Differentiation factor 5 (hGDF-5). Significant results in terms of gene expression were obtained. Namely, the up-regulation of Scleraxis (350-fold, p ≤ 0.05), type I Collagen (8-fold), Decorin (2.5-fold), and Tenascin-C (1.3-fold) was detected at day 14; on the other hand, when hGDF-5 was supplemented in the external medium only (in absence of nanocarriers), a limited effect on gene expression was evident. Teno-inductive environment also induced pro-inflammatory, (IL-6 (1.6-fold), TNF (45-fold, p ≤ 0.001), and IL-12A (1.4-fold)), and anti-inflammatory (IL-10 (120-fold) and TGF-β1 (1.8-fold)) cytokine expression upregulation at day 14. The presented 3D construct opens perspectives for the study of drug controlled delivery devices to promote teno-regenerative events.
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