A novel nano-structured porous polycaprolactone scaffold improves hyaline cartilage repair in a rabbit model compared to a collagen type I/III scaffold: in vitro and in vivo studies
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To develop a nano-structured porous polycaprolactone (NSP-PCL) scaffold and compare the articular cartilage repair potential with that of a commercially available collagen type I/III (Chondro-Gide®) scaffold.
By combining rapid prototyping and thermally induced phase separation, the NSP-PCL scaffold was produced for matrix-assisted autologous chondrocyte implantation. Lyophilizing a water–dioxane–PCL solution created micro and nano-pores. In vitro: The scaffolds were seeded with rabbit chondrocytes and cultured in hypoxia for 6 days. qRT–PCR was performed using primers for sox9, aggrecan, collagen type 1 and 2. In vivo: 15 New Zealand White Rabbits received bilateral osteochondral defects in the femoral intercondylar grooves. Autologous chondrocytes were harvested 4 weeks prior to surgery. There were 3 treatment groups: (1) NSP-PCL scaffold without cells. (2) The Chondro-Gide® scaffold with autologous chondrocytes and (3) NSP-PCL scaffold with autologous chondrocytes. Observation period was 13 weeks. Histological evaluation was made using the O’Driscoll score.
In vitro: The expressions of sox9 and aggrecan were higher in the NSP-PCL scaffold, while expression of collagen 1 was lower compared to the Chondro-Gide® scaffold. In vivo: Both NSP-PCL scaffolds with and without cells scored significantly higher than the Chondro-Gide® scaffold when looking at the structural integrity and the surface regularity of the repair tissue. No differences were found between the NSP-PCL scaffold with and without cells.
The NSP-PCL scaffold demonstrated higher in vitro expression of chondrogenic markers and had higher in vivo histological scores compared to the Chondro-Gide® scaffold. The improved chondrocytic differentiation can potentially produce more hyaline cartilage during clinical cartilage repair. It appears to be a suitable cell-free implant for hyaline cartilage repair and could provide a less costly and more effective treatment option than the Chondro-Gide® scaffold with cells.
KeywordsChondrocyte transplantation Cell-free scaffold Articular cartilage repair Rabbit model Polycaprolactone
The authors thank Anna Bay Nielsen, Anette Baatrup, Jane Pauli, Jonas Jensen from the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory and Steffen Ringgaard from the MR-Research Centre at Aarhus University Hospital for expert technical assistance. Funding was provided from the Individualized Musculoskeletal Regeneration and Reconstruction Network. Project no. 8415, grant holder: Cody Eric Bünger.
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