Healing potential of transplanted allogeneic chondrocytes of three different sources in lesions of the avascular zone of the meniscus: a pilot study

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Successful treatment of tears to the avascular region of the meniscus remains a challenge. Current repair techniques, such as sutures and anchors, are effective in stabilizing the peripheral, vascularized regions of the meniscus, but are not adequate for promoting healing in the avascular region. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the healing ability of a tissue-engineered repair technique using allogenic chondrocytes from three different sources for the avascular zone of the meniscus. Material and methods: Articular, auricular, and costal chondrocytes were harvested from 3-month-old Yorkshire swine. A 1-cm bucket-handle lesion was created in the avascular zone of each three swine. A cell-scaffold construct, composed of a single chondrocyte cell type and Vicryl mesh, was implanted into the lesion and secured with two vertical mattress sutures. Controls consisted of each three sutured unseeded mesh implants, suture only, and untreated lesions. The swine were allowed immediate post-operative full weight bearing. Menisci and controls were harvested after 12 weeks. Results: In all experimental samples, lesion closure was observed. Gross mechanical testing with two Adson forceps demonstrated bonding of the lesion. Histological analysis showed formation of new tissue in all three experimental samples. None of the control samples demonstrated closure and formation of new matrix. Conclusion: We present preliminary data that demonstrates the potential of a tissue-engineered, allogenic cellular repair to provide successful healing of lesions in the avascular zone in a large animal model.

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