In vivo cartilage repair using adipose-derived stem cell-loaded decellularized cartilage ECM scaffolds.
ABSTRACT We have previously reported a natural, human cartilage ECM (extracellular matrix)-derived three-dimensional (3D) porous acellular scaffold for in vivo cartilage tissue engineering in nude mice. However, the in vivo repair effects of this scaffold are still unknown. The aim of this study was to further explore the feasibility of application of cell-loaded scaffolds, using autologous adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs), for cartilage defect repair in rabbits. A defect 4 mm in diameter was created on the patellar groove of the femur in both knees, and was repaired with the chondrogenically induced ADSC-scaffold constructs (group A) or the scaffold alone (group B); defects without treatment were used as controls (group C). The results showed that in group A all defects were fully filled with repair tissue and at 6 months post-surgery most of the repair site was filled with hyaline cartilage. In contrast, in group B all defects were partially filled with repair tissue, but only half of the repair tissue was hyaline cartilage. Defects were only filled with fibrotic tissue in group C. Indeed, histological grading score analysis revealed that an average score in group A was higher than in groups B and C. GAG and type II collagen content and biomechanical property detection showed that the group A levels approached those of normal cartilage. In conclusion, ADSC-loaded cartilage ECM scaffolds induced cartilage repair tissue comparable to native cartilage in terms of mechanical properties and biochemical components. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.