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Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Sep;46(9):2524-34.

Tissue-engineered composites for the repair of large osteochondral defects.

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  • 1University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To test the hypothesis that engineered cartilage can provide a mechanically functional template capable of undergoing orderly remodeling during the repair of large osteochondral defects in adult rabbits, as assessed by quantitative structural and functional methods.

METHODS:

Engineered cartilage generated in vitro from chondrocytes cultured on a biodegradable scaffold was sutured to a subchondral support and the resulting composite press-fitted into a 7-mm long, 5-mm wide, 5-mm deep osteochondral defect in a rabbit knee joint. Defects left empty (group 1) or treated with cell-free composites (group 2) served as controls for defects treated with composites of engineered cartilage and the support, without or with adsorbed bone marrow (groups 3 and 4, respectively).

RESULTS:

Engineered cartilage withstood physiologic loading and remodeled over 6 months into osteochondral tissue with characteristic architectural features and physiologic Young's moduli. Composites integrated well with host bone in 90% of cases but did not integrate well with host cartilage. Structurally, 6-month repairs in groups 3 and 4 were superior to those in group 2 with respect to histologic score, cartilage thickness, and thickness uniformity, but were inferior to those in unoperated control tissue. At 6 months, Young's moduli in groups 2, 3, and 4 (0.68, 0.80, and 0.79 MPa, respectively) approached that in unoperated control tissue (0.84 MPa), whereas the corresponding modulus in group 1 (0.37 MPa) was significantly lower.

CONCLUSION:

Composites of tissue-engineered cartilage and a subchondral support promote the orderly remodeling of large osteochondral defects in adult rabbits.

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