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Tissue Eng. 2006 Dec;12(12):3405-16.

Osteochondral defect repair with autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells in an injectable, in situ, cross-linked synthetic extracellular matrix.

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Center for Therapeutic Biomaterials and Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, USA.


A co-cross-linked synthetic extracellular matrix (sECM) composed of chemically modified hyaluronic acid and gelatin was used as a cell delivery vehicle for osteochondral defect repair in a rabbit model. A full-thickness defect was created in the patellar groove of the femoral articular cartilage in each of 2 rabbit joints, and 4 experimental groups were assigned (12 rabbits/group): untreated control, autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) only, sECM only, and MSCs + sECM. The sECM hydrogels were allowed to cross-link in the defect in situ. Rabbits were sacrificed at 4, 8, and 12 weeks post-surgery, and cartilage repair was evaluated and scored. In the controls, defects were filled with fibrous tissue. In the MSC-only group, hyaline-like cartilage filled the peripheral area of the defect, but the center was filled with fibrous tissue. In the sECM-only group, hyaline cartilage with zonal architecture filled the defect at 12 weeks, but an interface between repaired and adjacent host cartilage was evident. In the MSCs + sECM group, defects were completely filled with elastic, firm, translucent cartilage at 12 weeks and showed superior integration of the repair tissue with the normal cartilage. The sECM delivers and retains MSCs, and the injectable cell-seeded sECM could be delivered arthroscopically in the clinic.

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