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
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