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Knee. 2009 Oct;16(5):398-404. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2009.02.004. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Immunohistochemical study of collagen types I and II and procollagen IIA in human cartilage repair tissue following autologous chondrocyte implantation.

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Centre for Spinal Studies, Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry, Shropshire, UK.


This study has assessed the relative proportions of type I and II collagens and IIA procollagen in full depth biopsies of repair tissue in a large sample of patients treated with autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI). Sixty five full depth biopsies were obtained from knees of 58 patients 8-60 months after treatment by ACI alone (n=55) or in combination with mosaicplasty (n=10). In addition articular cartilage was examined from eight individuals (aged 10-50) as controls. Morphology and semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry for collagen types I and II and procollagen IIA in the repair tissue were studied. Repair cartilage thickness was 2.89+/-1.5 mm and there was good basal integration between the repair cartilage, calcified cartilage and subchondral bone. Sixty five percent of the biopsies were predominantly fibrocartilage (mostly type I collagen and IIA procollagen), 15% were hyaline cartilage (mostly type II collagen), 17% were of mixed morphology and 3% were fibrous tissue (mostly type I collagen). Type II collagen and IIA procollagen were usually found in the lower regions near the bone and most type II collagen was present 30-60 months after treatment. The presence of type IIA procollagen in the repair tissue supports our hypothesis that this is indicative of a developing cartilage, with the ratio of type II collagen:procollagen IIA increasing from <2% in the first two years post-treatment to 30% three to five years after treatment. This suggests that cartilage repair tissue produced following ACI treatment, is likely to take some years to mature.

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