This study has assessed the relative proportions of type I and II collagens and IIA procollagen in full depth biopsies of repair tissue in a large sample of patients treated with autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI). Sixty five full depth biopsies were obtained from knees of 58 patients 8-60 months after treatment by ACI alone (n = 55) or in combination with mosaicplasty (n = 10). In addition articular cartilage was examined from eight individuals (aged 10-50) as controls. Morphology and semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry for collagen types I and II and procollagen IIA in the repair tissue were studied. Repair cartilage thickness was 2.89 ± 1.5 mm and there was good basal integration between the repair cartilage, calcified cartilage and subchondral bone. Sixty five percent of the biopsies were predominantly fibrocartilage (mostly type I collagen and IIA procollagen), 15% were hyaline cartilage (mostly type II collagen), 17% were of mixed morphology and 3% were fibrous tissue (mostly type I collagen). Type II collagen and IIA procollagen were usually found in the lower regions near the bone and most type II collagen was present 30-60 months after treatment. The presence of type IIA procollagen in the repair tissue supports our hypothesis that this is indicative of a developing cartilage, with the ratio of type II collagen:procollagen IIA increasing from < 2% in the first two years post-treatment to 30% three to five years after treatment. This suggests that cartilage repair tissue produced following ACI treatment, is likely to take some years to mature.
- Collagen types
- Hyaline cartilage