Biomaterial scaffolds in cartilage-subchondral bone defects influencing the repair of autologous articular cartilage transplants.
ABSTRACT The repair of articular cartilage typically involves the repair of cartilage-subchondral bone tissue defects. Although various bioactive materials have been used to repair bone defects, how these bioactive materials in subchondral bone defects influence the repair of autologous cartilage transplant remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of different subchondral biomaterial scaffolds on the repair of autologous cartilage transplant in a sheep model. Cylindrical cartilage-subchondral bone defects were created in the right femoral knee joint of each sheep. The subchondral bone defects were implanted with hydroxyapatite-β-tricalcium phosphate (HA-TCP), poly lactic-glycolic acid (PLGA)-HA-TCP dual-layered composite scaffolds (PLGA/HA-TCP scaffolds), or autologous bone chips. The autologous cartilage layer was placed on top of the subchondral materials. After 3 months, the effect of different subchondral scaffolds on the repair of autologous cartilage transplant was systematically studied by investigating the mechanical strength, structural integration, and histological responses. The results showed that the transplanted cartilage layer supported by HA-TCP scaffolds had better structural integration and higher mechanical strength than that supported by PLGA/HA-TCP scaffolds. Furthermore, HA-TCP-supported cartilage showed higher expression of acid mucosubstances and glycol-amino-glycan contents than that supported by PLGA/HA-TCP scaffolds. Our results suggested that the physicochemical properties, including the inherent mechanical strength and material chemistry of the scaffolds, play important roles in influencing the repair of autologous cartilage transplants. The study may provide useful information for the design and selection of proper subchondral biomaterials to support the repair of both subchondral bone and cartilage defects.