This study evaluates the feasibility of growing tissue-engineered cartilage in the shape of a human ear using chondrocytes seeded onto a synthetic biodegradable polymer fashioned in the shape of a 3-year-old child's auricle. A polymer template was formed in the shape of a human auricle using a nonwoven mesh of polyglycolic acid molded after being immersed in a 1% solution of polylactic acid. Each polyglycolic acid-polylactic acid template was seeded with chondrocytes isolated from bovine articular cartilage and then implanted into subcutaneous pockets on the dorsa of 10 athymic mice. The three-dimensional structure was well maintained after removal of an external stent that had been applied for 4 weeks.
Specimens harvested 12 weeks after implantation and subjected to gross morphologic and histologic analysis demonstrated new cartilage formation. The overall geometry of the experimental specimens closely resembled the complex structure of the child's auricle.
These findings demonstrate that polyglycolic acid-polylactic acid constructs can be fabricated in a very intricate configuration and seeded with chondrocytes to generate new cartilage that would be useful in plastic and reconstructive surgery. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 100: 297, 1997.)