Background: The availability of generated cartilage de novo is one of the needs of reconstructive surgery. In this study, the authors constructed a matrix formed by autologous immobilized chondrocytes using collagen gel as a scaffold. Furthermore, the ability of these matrices to engraft and generate new cartilage was examined.
Methods: Biopsy specimens of elastic cartilage were surgically obtained from the ears of eight New Zealand White rabbits. After collagenase II digestion of cartilage, chondrocytes were isolated and propagated in culture medium. Chondrocytes were immobilized into bovine collagen lattices and implanted, replacing pieces of removed native cartilage. Five weeks after implantation, the rabbits were killed and the ears were examined macroscopically and analyzed by means of histochemical methods.
Results: The results show the formation of new cartilage from implanted lattices with chondrocytes. Gross analysis of the ears shows similarities in appearance, consistency, texture, and histology between native and new cartilage. Fluorescence of the nucleus from bisbenzimide-labeled chondrocytes was detected in newly formed tissue, pointing out its in vitro culture origin. No signs of an inflammatory reaction attributable to implants were found in either the control or the chondrocyte lattices.
Conclusion: The authors suggest that this approach is of value for future clinical use.