Tissue-engineered autologous grafts for facial bone reconstruction

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Abstract

Facial deformities require precise reconstruction of the appearance and function of the original tissue. The current standard of care—the use of bone harvested from another region in the body—has major limitations, including pain and comorbidities associated with surgery. We have engineered one of the most geometrically complex facial bones by using autologous stromal/stem cells, native bovine bone matrix, and a perfusion bioreactor for the growth and transport of living grafts, without bone morphogenetic proteins. The ramus-condyle unit, the most eminent load-bearing bone in the skull, was reconstructed using an image-guided personalized approach in skeletally mature Yucatán minipigs (human-scale preclinical model). We used clinically approved decellularized bovine trabecular bone as a scaffolding material and crafted it into an anatomically correct shape using image-guided micromilling to fit the defect. Autologous adipose-derived stromal/stem cells were seeded into the scaffold and cultured in perfusion for 3 weeks in a specialized bioreactor to form immature bone tissue. Six months after implantation, the engineered grafts maintained their anatomical structure, integrated with native tissues, and generated greater volume of new bone and greater vascular infiltration than either nonseeded anatomical scaffolds or untreated defects. This translational study demonstrates feasibility of facial bone reconstruction using autologous, anatomically shaped, living grafts formed in vitro, and presents a platform for personalized bone tissue engineering.

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