A Novel Biodegradable Polyurethane Matrix for Auricular Cartilage Repair: An In Vitro and In Vivo Study

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Auricular reconstruction poses a challenge for reconstructive and burns surgeons. Techniques involving cartilage tissue engineering have shown potential in recent years. A biodegradable polyurethane matrix developed for dermal reconstruction offers an alternative to autologous, allogeneic, or xenogeneic biologicals for cartilage reconstruction. This study assesses such a polyurethane matrix for this indication in vivo and in vitro. To evaluate intrinsic cartilage repair, three pigs underwent auricular surgery to create excisional cartilage ± perichondrial defects, measuring 2 × 3 cm in each ear, into which acellular polyurethane matrices were implanted. Biopsies were taken at day 28 for histological assessment. Porcine chondrocytes ± perichondrocytes were cultured and seeded in vitro onto 1 × 1 cm polyurethane scaffolds. The total culture period was 42 days; confocal, histological, and immunohistochemical analyses of scaffold cultures were performed on days 14, 28, and 42. In vivo, the polyurethane matrices integrated with granulation tissue filling all biopsy samples. Minimal neocartilage invasion was observed marginally on some samples. Tissue composition was identical between ears whether perichondrium was left intact, or not. In vitro, the polyurethane matrix was biocompatible with chondrocytes ± perichondrocytes and supported production of extracellular matrix and Type II collagen. No difference was observed between chondrocyte culture alone and chondrocyte/perichondrocyte scaffold coculture. The polyurethane matrix successfully integrated into the auricular defect and was a suitable scaffold in vitro for cartilage tissue engineering, demonstrating its potential application in auricular reconstruction.

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