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Tissue Eng. 2002 Apr;8(2):333-47.

Treatment of osteochondral defects with autologous bone marrow in a hyaluronan-based delivery vehicle.

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  • 1Skeletal Research Center, Department of Biology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


The natural repair of osteochondral defects can be enhanced with biocompatible, biodegradable and bioactive materials that provide structural support and molecular cuing to stimulate repair. Since bone marrow contains osteochondral progenitor cells and bioactive agents, it is hypothesized that the combination of scaffold and bone marrow would be a superior composite material for osteochondral repair. This hypothesis will be tested by comparing the outcome of osteochondral defects filled with a fibronectin-coated hyaluronan-based sponge (ACP) with or without autologous bone marrow. Thirty-three 4-month-old rabbits received 3-mm diameter osteochondral defects that were then filled with ACP loaded or not with autologous bone marrow. Rabbits were sacrificed at 2, 3, 4, 12, and 24 weeks after surgery and the condyles processed for histologic and immunohistochemical evaluation. The defects were graded with a histologic scoring scale. Except for the 3-week specimens, the histologic appearance of the defects was similar in both groups. Four weeks after surgery, the defects were filled with bone with a top layer of cartilage well integrated with the adjacent cartilage. Twelve and 24 weeks after surgery, the defects again showed bone filling. The primary difference between the 4-week samples and the 12- and 24-week samples was that the layer of cartilage that appeared to be thinner than the adjacent cartilage. At each harvest time, the overall histologic scores of the specimens did not reveal statistical differences between the treatment groups. However, as revealed by the results of the 3-week sacrifices, bone marrow loading appeared to accelerate the first stages of the repair process. The fibronectin-coated hyaluronan-based scaffold appears to organize the natural response and facilitate the integration of the neo-cartilage with the adjacent tissue. The fundamental tissue engineering principles derived from this study should provide guidelines for the development of comparable clinical reconstructive therapies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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