Standard cartilage tissue engineering approaches, for example, matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation (MACI), consist of the implantation of cell-based constructs whose survival and further development first depend on the degree of graft maturity at the time of surgery (e.g., matrix production) and, subsequently, on initial host reaction. Indeed, blood vessel ingrowth and macrophage migration within the implant may endanger graft stability of immature constructs; so, control of angiogenesis was proposed as an adjuvant of cellular therapy for the treatment of cartilage defects. In this study, we hypothesized that engineered constructs with no in vitro precultivation, but functionalized to block angiogenesis right on implantation, might result in better survival, as well as superior long-term cartilaginous quality. Here, we propose a clinically compatible fibrin/hyaluronan scaffold seeded with nasal chondrocytes (NC) and functionalized with an FDA-approved anti-angiogenic drug (bevacizumab; Avastin®), which sequestrates vascular endothelial growth factor from the surrounding environment. Our results show that the sustained bevacizumab release from NC-loaded scaffolds after subcutaneous implantation in nude mice efficiently blocked host vessels ingrowth (five times lower CD31+ cells infiltration vs. control group, at 3 weeks after implant), and enhanced constructs survival rate (75% vs. 18% for the control, at 6 weeks after implant). In vitro assays, developed to elucidate the role of specific construct components in the in vivo remodeling, allowed to determine that fibrin degradation products enhanced the in vitro endothelial cell proliferation, as well as the macrophage migration; whereas the presence of bevacizumab was capable of counteracting these effects. The proposed pharmacological control of angiogenesis by a therapeutic drug released from a scaffold might enhance cartilage regeneration by MACI approaches, possibly allowing it to bypass the complex and costly phase of graft preculture to gain increased functionality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering