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Biomaterials. 2006 Jan;27(3):362-70. Epub 2005 Sep 13.

Biomechanical and biochemical characterization of composite tissue-engineered intervertebral discs.

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Center for Tissue Engineering, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.


Composite tissue-engineered intervertebral tissue was assembled in the shape of cylindrical disks composed of an outer shell of PGA mesh seeded with annulus fibrosus cells with an inner core of nucleus pulposus cells seeded into an alginate gel. Samples were implanted subcutaneously in athymic mice and retrieved at time points up to 16 weeks. At all retrieval times, samples maintained shape and contained regions of distinct tissue formation. Histology revealed progressive tissue formation with distinct morphological differences in tissue formation in regions seeded with annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus cells. Biochemical analysis indicated that DNA, proteoglycan, and collagen content in tissue-engineered discs increased with time, reaching >50% of the levels of native tissue by 16 weeks. The exception to this was the collagen content of the nucleus pulposus portion of the implants with were approximately 15% of native values. The equilibrium modulus of tissue-engineered discs was 49.0+/-13.2 kPa at 16 weeks, which was between the measured values for the modulus of annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus. The hydraulic permeability of tissue-engineered discs was 5.1+/-1.7x10(-14) m2/Pa at 16 weeks, which was between the measured values for the hydraulic permeability of annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus. These studies document the feasibility of creating composite tissue-engineered intevertebral disc implants with similar composition and mechanical properties to native tissue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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