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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 23;107(8):3418-23. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907774107. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

Autologous engineering of cartilage.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, 6200 MD, Netherlands.


Treatment of full-thickness damage to hyaline cartilage is hampered by the limited availability of autologous healthy cartilage and the lengthy, cost-prohibitive cell isolation and expansion steps associated with autologous cartilage implantation (ACI). Here we report a strategy for de novo engineering of ectopic autologous cartilage (EAC) within the subperiosteal space (in vivo bioreactor), through the mere introduction of a biocompatible gel that might promote hypoxia-mediated chondrogenesis, thereby effectively overcoming the aforementioned limitations. The EAC is obtained within 3 wk post injection of the gel, and can be press-fit into an osteochondral defect where it undergoes remodeling with good lateral and subchondral integration. The implanted EAC showed no calcification even after 9 mo and attained an average O'Driscoll score of 11 (versus 4 for controls). An "on demand" autologous source of autologous cartilage with remodeling capacity is expected to significantly impact the clinical options in repair of trauma to articular cartilage.

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