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Tissue Eng Part A. 2009 Mar;15(3):635-43. doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0052.

Engineering endochondral bone: in vivo studies.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, ESTV-Escola Superior de Tecnologia de Viseu, Viseu, Portugal.


The use of biomaterials to replace lost bone has been a common practice for decades. More recently, the demands for bone repair and regeneration have pushed research into the use of cultured cells and growth factors in association with these materials. Here we report a novel approach to engineer new bone using a transient cartilage scaffold to induce endochondral ossification. Chondrocyte/chitosan scaffolds (both a transient cartilage scaffold-experimental-and a permanent cartilage scaffold-control) were prepared and implanted subcutaneously in nude mice. Bone formation was evaluated over a period of 5 months. Mineralization was assessed by Faxitron, micro computed tomography, backscatter electrons, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analyses. Histological analysis provided further information on tissue changes in and around the implanted scaffolds. The deposition of ectopic bone was detected in the surface of the experimental implants as early as 1 month after implantation. After 3 months, bone trabeculae and bone marrow cavities were formed inside the scaffolds. The bone deposited was similar to the bone of the mice vertebra. Interestingly, no bone formation was observed in control implants. In conclusion, an engineered transient cartilage template carries all the signals necessary to induce endochondral bone formation in vivo.

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