Each year, more than one million patients undergo some type of procedure involving cartilage reconstruction. Polymer hydrogels such as alginate have been demonstrated to be effective carriers of chondrocytes for subcutaneous cartilage formation. The goal of this study was to develop a simple method to create complex structures with good three-dimensional tolerance in order to form cartilage in specific shapes in an autologous animal model. Six alginate implants that had been seeded with autologous chondrocytes through an injection molding process were implanted subcutaneously in sheep, harvested after 6 months, and analyzed histologically, biochemically, and biomechanically, in comparison with original auricular cartilage. Molds of craniofacial implants were prepared with Silastic E RTV (Dow Corning, Midland, Mich.). Chondrocytes were harvested from sheep auricular cartilage and suspended in 2% alginate at a concentration of 50 × 106 cells/ml. The mixture of cells and gel was injected into the Silastic molds and removed after 20 minutes. Chondrocyte-alginate constructs were implanted subcutaneously in the necks of the sheep from which the cells had originally been harvested, and the constructs were removed after 30 weeks. Analyses of the implanted constructs indicated cartilage formation with three-dimensional shape retention. The proteoglycan and collagen contents of the constructs increased with time to approximately 80 percent of the values for native tissue. The equilibrium modulus and the hydraulic permeability were 74 and 105 percent of those of native sheep auricular cartilage, respectively.
Worcester, Mass.; Taipei, Taiwan; and Englewood, N.J.
From the Center for Tissue Engineering, University of Massachusetts Medical School; the Department of Plastic Surgery, Craniofacial Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital; and the Department of Plastic Surgery, Englewood Hospital.
Received for publication May 7, 2002;
revised November 15, 2002.
Presented in part at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Plastic Surgery Research Council, in Seattle, Washington, April 22 to 25, 2000.
Lawrence J. Bonassar, Ph.D.
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
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Ithaca, N.Y. 14853