Tissue-engineering has great potential for treating cartilage pathologies such as osteoarthritis by replacing degraded tissue with newly developed engineered tissue. However proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1α (IL-1α) are a confounding issue as they are often present in high concentrations as part of the chronic pathology or as a result of the surgical intervention itself(1). The catabolic effects of these mediators may be especially pronounced in engineered tissues whose cells are not yet fully embedded in the potentially chondroprotective enclosure of a cartilaginous extracellular matrix(2). One method to protecting initially fragile constructs from degradation may be through the use of non-toxic cross-linking agents. Genipin is a naturally occurring crosslinking agent that reacts with amino acids or amine groups and leads to the formation of stable crosslinked products that are identifiable by a dark blue pigment (Figure 1). Cartilage cross-linked with genipin has been shown to be more resistant to collagenase digestion(3) and to injection of chondroitinase-ABC(4). In this study, we examined whether engineered constructs pre-treated with genipin would better resist IL-1α induced catabolic degradation.

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