The potential for using of allogeneic cartilage chips, transplanted in a biologic polymer with articular chondrocytes, as a tool for articular cartilage repair was studied. Small lyophilized articular cartilage chips were mixed with a cell/fibrinogen solution and thrombin to obtain implantable constructs made of fibrin glue, chondrocytes, and cartilage chips. Specimens were implanted in the subcutaneous tissue on the backs of nude mice (experimental group A). Three groups of controls (groups B, C, and D) were also prepared. Group B consisted of fibrin glue and cartilage chips without chondrocytes. Group C consisted of fibrin glue and chondrocytes without cartilage chips, and group D was composed solely of fibrin glue. All samples were carefully weighed before implantation in the mice. The constructs were harvested from the animals at 6, 9, and 12 weeks, examined grossly, and weighed. The samples were then processed and stained with hematoxylin and eosin for histological examination. Gross evaluation and weight analysis of the constructs at the time of retrieval showed retention of the original mass in the samples made of fibrin glue, chondrocytes, and cartilage chips (group A) and demonstrated a cartilaginous consistency upon probing. Specimens from constructs of fibrin glue and cartilage chips without chondrocytes (control group B) retained most of their volume, but were statistically lighter than specimens from group A and were much softer and more pliable than those in group A. Samples of specimens from constructs of fibrin glue and chondrocytes (groups C) and fibrin glue alone (group D) both showed a substantial reduction of their original masses over the experimental time periods when compared to the samples in groups A and B, although specimens from group C demonstrated new cartilage matrix formation. Histological analysis of specimens in experimental group A demonstrated the presence of cartilage chips surrounded by newly formed cartilaginous matrix, while specimens of control group B showed only fibrotic tissue surrounding the devitalized cartilage pieces. Cartilaginous matrix was also observed in control group C, in which cartilage chips were absent, whereas only fibrin glue debris was observed in control group D. This study demonstrated that a composite of fibrin glue and devitalized cartilage can serve as a scaffold for chondrocyte transplantation, preserve the original phenotype of the chondrocytes, and maintain the original mass of the implant. This may represent a valid option for addressing the problem of articular cartilage repair.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology