The potential of pulsed low intensity ultrasound to stimulate chondrocytes matrix synthesis in agarose and monolayer cultures
Ultrasound (US) is commonly used as a physiotherapy aid for a number of types of injury to soft connective tissues and for fracture healing. However, the precise effects of therapeutic US on tissue healing processes are not clearly understood, although they are likely to involve changes in key cellular functions. The present study has therefore examined the effects of several US intensity levels on the activity of two bone-associated proteins, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and osteopontin (OP) in a human cell line, MG63, using RT-PCR. ALP showed progressively higher expression with increasing US intensities, whereas OP responded differently, showing down-regulation at 120 mW/cm2, the lowest US exposure. OP expression was considerably less affected overall compared with the relative response of ALP to the same US doses. The results show that there is a differential response to therapeutic levels of US, since ALP and OP clearly exhibited gene-specific response profiles. These findings suggest that modifying the parameters of US exposure could be used to improve repair and regeneration processes and enhance the clinical efficacy of implanted biomaterials for tissue engineering.