Evaluation of a Cell-Free Collagen Type I-Based Scaffold for Articular Cartilage Regeneration in an Orthotopic Rat Model.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Materials (Basel, Switzerland), 2020, 13, (10)
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The management of chondral defects represents a big challenge because of the limited self-healing capacity of cartilage. Many approaches in this field obtained partial satisfactory results. Cartilage tissue engineering, combining innovative scaffolds and stem cells from different sources, emerges as a promising strategy for cartilage regeneration. The aim of this study was to evaluate the capability of a cell-free collagen I-based scaffold to promote cartilaginous repair after orthotopic implantation in vivo. Articular cartilage lesions (ACL) were created at the femoropatellar groove in rat knees and cell free collagen I-based scaffolds (S) were then implanted into right knee defect for the ACL-S group. No scaffold was implanted for the ACL group. At 4-, 8- and 16-weeks post-transplantation, degrees of cartilage repair were evaluated by morphological, histochemical and gene expression analyses. Histological analysis shows the formation of fibrous tissue, at 4-weeks replaced by a tissue resembling the calcified one at 16-weeks in the ACL group. In the ACL-S group, progressive replacement of the scaffold with the newly formed cartilage-like tissue is shown, as confirmed by Alcian Blue staining. Immunohistochemical and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses display the expression of typical cartilage markers, such as collagen type I and II (ColI and ColII), Aggrecan and Sox9. The results of this study display that the collagen I-based scaffold is highly biocompatible and able to recruit host cells from the surrounding joint tissues to promote cartilaginous repair of articular defects, suggesting its use as a potential approach for cartilage tissue regeneration.
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