Objective: An in vitro model was used to test the hypothesis that culture time and adjacent tissue structure and composition affected chondrogenesis and integrative repair in engineered cartilage. Method: Engineered constructs made of bovine calf chondrocytes and hyaluronan benzyl ester non-woven mesh were press-fitted into adjacent tissue rings made of articular cartilage (AC), devitalized bone (DB), or vital bone (VB) and cultured in rotating bioreactors for up to 8 weeks. Structure (light and electron microscopy), biomechanical properties (interfacial adhesive strength, construct compressive modulus), biochemical composition (construct glycosaminoglycans (GAG), collagen, and cells), and adjacent tissue diffusivity were assessed. Results: Engineered constructs were comprised predominately of hyaline cartilage, and appeared either closely apposed to adjacent cartilage or functionally interdigitated with adjacent bone due to interfacial deposition of extracellular matrix. An increase in culture time significantly improved construct adhesive strength (P < 0.001), modulus (P = 0.02), GAG (P = 0.04) and cellularity (P < 0.001). The type of adjacent tissue significantly affected construct adhesion (P < 0.001), modulus (P < 0.001), GAG (P < 0.001) and collagen (P < 0.001). For constructs cultured in rings of cartilage, negative correlations were observed between ring GAG content (log transformed) and construct adhesion (R2 = 0.66, P < 0.005), modulus (R2 = 0.49, P < 0.05) and GAG (R2 = 0.44, P < 0.05). Integrative repair was better for constructs cultured adjacent to bone than cartilage, in association with its solid architectural structure and high GAG content, and best for constructs cultured adjacent to DB, in association with its high diffusivity. Conclusions: Chondrogenesis and integrative repair in engineered cartilage improved with time and depended on adjacent tissue architecture, composition, and transport properties.
- Tissue engineered cartilage