A comparative study of 3 different cartilage repair techniques
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- Schneider, U., Schmidt-Rohlfing, B., Gavenis, K. et al. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc (2011) 19: 2145. doi:10.1007/s00167-011-1460-x
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The value of cell-free techniques in the treatment of cartilage defects remains under debate. In this study, cartilage repair of full-thickness chondral defects in the knees of Goettinger minipigs was assessed by treatment with a cell-free collagen type-I gel or a collagen type-I gel seeded with autologous chondrocytes. As a control, abrasion arthroplasty was included.
In 18 adult Goettinger minipigs, three full-thickness chondral defects were created in one knee of the hind leg. They were either treated with a cell-free collagen gel, a collagen gel seeded with 2 × 105/ml chondrocytes, or left untreated. All animals were allowed unlimited weight bearing. At 6, 12, and 52 weeks, 6 animals were sacrificed. Immediately after recovery, a non-destructive biomechanical testing was performed. The repair tissue quality was evaluated histologically, and the O’Driscoll score was calculated.
After 6 weeks, a high number of cells migrated into the initially cell-free collagen gel. After 1 year, a hyaline-like repair tissue in both groups has been created. As assessed by O’Driscoll scoring and col-II staining, repair tissue quality of the initially cell-free gel was equal to defects treated by cell-seeded collagen gel implantation after 1 year. All untreated control defects displayed a fibrous repair tissue. The mechanical properties represented by the e-modulus were inconsistent in the course of the study.
The implantation of a cell-free collagen type-I gel can lead to a high-quality repair tissue in the Goettinger minipig that equals a cell-based procedure after 1 year postoperatively. This study demonstrates the high chondrogenic potential of the applied collagen gel, which might help to overcome the disadvantages inherent in conventional cartilage tissue engineering methods.