Natural Type II Collagen Hydrogel, Fibrin Sealant, and Adipose-Derived Stem Cells as a Promising Combination for Articular Cartilage Repair

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Abstract

Objective

Articular cartilage is an avascular tissue with limited ability of self-regeneration and the current clinical treatments have restricted capacity to restore damages induced by trauma or diseases. Therefore, new techniques are being tested for cartilage repair, using scaffolds and/or stem cells. Although type II collagen hydrogel, fibrin sealant, and adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) represent suitable alternatives for cartilage formation, their combination has not yet been investigated in vivo for focal articular cartilage defects. We performed a simple experimental procedure using the combination of these 3 compounds on cartilage lesions of rabbit knees.

Design

The hydrogel was developed in house and was first tested in vitro for chondrogenic differentiation. Next, implants were performed in chondral defects with or without ASCs and the degree of regeneration was macroscopically and microscopically evaluated.

Results

Production of proteoglycans and the increased expression of collagen type II (COL2α1), aggrecan (ACAN), and sex-determining region Y-box 9 (SOX9) confirmed the chondrogenic character of ASCs in the hydrogel in vitro. Importantly, the addition of ASC induced a higher overall repair of the chondral lesions and a better cellular organization and collagen fiber alignment compared with the same treatment without ASCs. This regenerating tissue also presented the expression of cartilage glycosaminoglycan and type II collagen.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that the combination of the 3 compounds is effective for articular cartilage repair and may be of future clinical interest.

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