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Tissue Eng Part A. 2011 Jun;17(11-12):1573-81. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2010.0627. Epub 2011 Mar 13.

Engineering ear constructs with a composite scaffold to maintain dimensions.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Engineered cartilage composed of a patient's own cells can become a feasible option for auricular reconstruction. However, distortion and shrinkage of ear-shaped constructs during scaffold degradation and neocartilage maturation in vivo have hindered the field. Scaffolds made of synthetic polymers often generate degradation products that cause an inflammatory reaction and negatively affect neocartilage formation in vivo. Porous collagen, a natural material, is a promising candidate; however, it cannot withstand the contractile forces exerted by skin and surrounding tissue during normal wound healing. We hypothesised that a permanent support in the form of a coiled wire embedded into a porous collagen scaffold will maintain the construct's size and ear-specific shape. Half-sized human adult ear-shaped fibrous collagen scaffolds with and without embedded coiled titanium wire were seeded with sheep auricular chondrocytes, cultured in vitro for up to 2 weeks, and implanted subcutaneously on the backs of nude mice. After 6 weeks, the dimensional changes in all implants with wire support were minimal (2.0% in length and 4.1% in width), whereas significant reduction in size occurred in the constructs without embedded wire (14.4% in length and 16.5% in width). No gross distortion occurred over the in vivo study period. There were no adverse effects on neocartilage formation from the embedded wire. Histologically, mature neocartilage extracellular matrix was observed throughout all implants. The amount of DNA, glycosaminoglycan, and hydroxyproline in the engineered cartilage were similar to that of native sheep ear cartilage. The embedded wire support was essential for avoiding shrinkage of the ear-shaped porous collagen constructs.

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