BACKGROUND: Tissue engineering has the potential to repair cartilage structures in middle-aged and elderly patients using their own "aged" cartilage tissue as a source of reparative chondrocytes. However, most studies on tissue-engineered cartilage have used chondrocytes from postfetal or very young donors. The authors hypothesized that articular chondrocytes isolated from old animals could produce neocartilage in vivo as well as articular chondrocytes from young donors. METHODS: Articular chondrocytes from 8-year-old sheep (old donors) and 3- to 6-month-old sheep (young donors) were isolated. Cells were mixed in fibrin gel polymer at 40 × 10 cells/ml until polymerization. Cell-polymer constructs were implanted into the subcutaneous tissue of nude mice and harvested at 7 and 12 weeks. RESULTS: Samples and native articular cartilage controls were examined histologically and assessed biochemically for total DNA, glycosaminoglycan, and hydroxyproline content. Histological analysis showed that samples made with chondrocytes from old donors accumulated basophilic extracellular matrix and sulfated glycosaminoglycans around the cells in a manner similar to that seen in samples made with chondrocytes from young donors at 7 and 12 weeks. Biochemical analysis revealed that DNA, glycosaminoglycan, and hydroxyproline content increased in chondrocytes from old donors over time in a pattern similar to that seen with chondrocytes from young donors. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that chondrocytes from old donors can be rejuvenated and can produce neocartilage just as chondrocytes from young donors do when encapsulated in fibrin gel polymer in vivo. This study suggests that middle-aged and elderly patients could benefit from cartilage tissue-engineering repair using their own "aged" articular cartilage as a source of reparative chondrocytes.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery|
|State||Published - Jul 2006|
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