Repair of porcine articular cartilage defect with autologous chondrocyte transplantation

J Orthop Res. 2005 May;23(3):584-93. doi: 10.1016/j.orthres.2004.11.003. Epub 2005 Jan 19.


Articular cartilage is known to have poor healing capacity after injury. Autologous chondral grafting remains the mainstay to treat well-defined, full-thickness, symptomatic cartilage defects. We demonstrated the utilization of gelatin microbeads to deliver autologous chondrocytes for in vivo cartilage generation. Chondrocytes were harvested from the left forelimbs of 12 Lee-Sung pigs. The cells were expanded in monolayer culture and then seeded onto gelatin microbeads or left in monolayer. Shortly before implantation, the cell-laden beads were mixed with collagen type I gel, while the cells in monolayer culture were collected and re-suspended in culture medium. Full-thickness cartilage defects were surgically created in the weight-bearing surface of the femoral condyles of both knees, covered by periosteal patches taken from proximal tibia, and sealed with a porcine fibrin glue. In total, 48 condyles were equally allotted to experimental, control, and null groups that were filled beneath the patch with chondrocyte-laden beads in gel, chondrocytes in plain medium solution, or nothing, respectively. The repair was examined 6 months post-surgery on the basis of macroscopic appearance, histological scores based on the International Cartilage Repair Society Scale, and the proportion of characteristic chondrocytes. Tensile stress-relaxation behavior was determined from uniaxial indentation tests. The experimental group scored higher than the control group in the categories of matrix nature, cell distribution pattern, and absence of mineralization, with similar surface smoothness. Both the experimental and control groups were superior to the null group in the above-mentioned categories. Viable cell populations were equal in all groups, but the proportion of characteristic chondrocytes was highest in the experimental group. Matrix stiffness was ranked as null > native cartilage > control > experimental group. Transplanted autologous chondrocytes survive and could yield hyaline-like cartilage. The application of beads and gel for transplantation helped to retain the transferred cells in situ and maintain a better chondrocyte phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Calcification, Physiologic
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / surgery*
  • Cell Survival
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Collagen Type II / analysis
  • Female
  • Male
  • Swine
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Collagen Type II