In vitro and in vivo cartilage engineering using a combination of chondrocyte-seeded long-term stable fibrin gels and polycaprolactone-based polyurethane scaffolds

Tissue Eng. 2007 Sep;13(9):2207-18. doi: 10.1089/ten.2006.0358.


The use of either a hydrogel or a solid polymeric scaffold alone is often associated with distinct drawbacks in many tissue engineering applications. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the potential of a combination of long-term stable fibrin gels and polyurethane scaffolds for cartilage engineering. Primary bovine chondrocytes were suspended in fibrin gel and subsequently injected into a polycaprolactone-based polyurethane scaffold. Cells were homogeneously distributed within this composite system and produced high amounts of cartilage-specific extracellular matrix (ECM) components, namely glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and collagen type II, within 4 weeks of in vitro culture. In contrast, cells seeded directly onto the scaffold without fibrin resulted in a lower seeding efficiency and distinctly less homogeneous matrix distribution. Cell-fibrin-scaffold constructs implanted into the back of nude mice promoted the formation of adequate engineered cartilaginous tissue within the scaffold after 1, 3, and 6 months in vivo, containing evenly distributed ECM components, such as GAGs and collagen. Again, in constructs seeded without fibrin, histology showed an inhomogeneous and, thus, not adequate ECM distribution compared to seeding with fibrin, even after 6 months in vivo. Strikingly, a precultivation for 1 week in vitro elicited similar results in vivo compared to precultivation for 4 weeks; that is, a precultivation for longer than 1 week did not enhance tissue development. The presented composite system is suggested as a promising alternative toward clinical application of engineered cartilaginous tissue for plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials*
  • Cartilage, Articular*
  • Cattle
  • Chondrocytes*
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Female
  • Fibrin*
  • Gels
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Polyesters*
  • Polyurethanes*
  • Tissue Engineering*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Gels
  • Polyesters
  • Polyurethanes
  • polycaprolactone
  • Fibrin