A previous study demonstrated that the reconstituted type I collagen matrix extracted from rabbit tendons enabled the TMJ disc to regenerate in the rabbit. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in the extracellular matrix (ECM) and mechanisms of regeneration in the TMJ disc. In 36 New Zealand rabbits that underwent a partial discectomy, discs were replaced with reconstituted collagen templates for 3 months. A histological analysis showed that moderate to severe degeneration appeared in partially discectomized joints without implantation. In contrast, discs experienced regeneration of reconstituted collagen template implantation and the joint returned to normal function. Cells in the regenerative tissue expressed ECM, and fibers became regular and compact due to tissue remodeling over time. Reparative cells differentiated into chondroblasts, and showed highly dense pericellular fibers. The morphology and collagen composition of the disc and condyle in the 3-month experimental group were similar to those of normal tissues. In conclusion, the reconstituted collagen template facilitated the regeneration of surgically discectomized discs. Type I and type II collagens play a crucial role in the regeneration of articular discs.
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