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J Orthop Res. 2016 Jan;34(1):149-53. doi: 10.1002/jor.23038. Epub 2015 Sep 8.

Mechanical properties and structure-function relationships in articular cartilage repaired using IGF-I gene-enhanced chondrocytes.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.


Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of IGF-I gene therapy in enhancing the histologic and biochemical content of cartilage repaired by chondrocyte transplantation. However, there is little to no data on the mechanical performance of IGF-I augmented cartilage grafts. This study evaluated the compressive properties of full-thickness chondral defects in the equine femur repaired with and without IGF-I gene therapy. Animals were randomly assigned to one of three study cohorts based on chondrocyte treatment provided in each defect: (i) IGF-I gene delivered by recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-5; (ii) AAV-5 delivering GFP as a reporter; (iii) naïve cells without virus. In each case, the opposite limb was implanted with a fibrin carrier without cells. Samples were prepared for confined compression testing to measure the aggregate modulus and hydraulic permeability. All treatment groups, regardless of cell content or transduction, had mechanical properties inferior to native cartilage. Overexpression of IGF-I increased modulus and lowered permeability relative to other treatments. Investigation of structure-property relationships revealed that Ha and k were linearly correlated with GAG content but logarithmically correlated with collagen content. This provides evidence that IGF-I gene therapy can improve healing of articular cartilage and can greatly increase the mechanical properties of repaired grafts.


cartilage repair; chondrocyte implantation; gene therapy

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