One of the major limitations of tissue-engineered cartilage is poor integration of chondrocytes and scaffold structures with recipient tissue. To overcome this limitation, an expandable scaffold with a honeycomb-like structure has been developed using microfluidic technology. In this study, we evaluated the performance of this expandable gelatin scaffold seeded with rabbit chondrocytes in vivo. The chondrocyte/scaffold constructs were implanted into regions of surgically introduced cylindrical osteochondral defects in rabbit femoral condyles. At 2, 4, and 6 months postsurgery, the implanted constructs were evaluated by gross and histological examinations. As expected, the osteochondral defects, which were untreated or transplanted with blank scaffolds, showed no signs of repair, whereas the defects transplanted with chondrocyte/scaffold constructs showed significant cartilage regeneration. Furthermore, the expandable scaffolds seeded with chondrocytes had more regenerated cartilage tissue and better integration with the recipient tissue than autologous chondrocyte implantation. Biomechanical tests revealed that the chondrocyte/scaffold group had the highest compressive strength among all groups at all three time points and endured a similar compressive force to normal cartilage after 6 months of implantation. Histological examinations revealed that the chondrocytes were distributed uniformly within the scaffolds, maintained a normal phenotype, and secreted functional components of the extracellular matrix. Histomorphometric assessment showed a remarkable total interface of up to 87% integration of the expandable scaffolds with the host tissue at 6 months postoperation. In conclusion, the expandable scaffolds improved chondrocyte/scaffold construct integration with the host tissue and were beneficial for cartilage repair. © Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016.
Wang, C. C., Yang, K-C., Lin, K. H., Liu, Y. L., Yang, Y. T., Kuo, T. F., & Chen, I. H. (2016). Expandable Scaffold Improves Integration of Tissue-Engineered Cartilage: An in Vivo Study in a Rabbit Model. Tissue Engineering - Part A, 22(11-12), 873-884. https://doi.org/10.1089/ten.tea.2015.0510