The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential of silk fibroin and chitosan blend (SFCS) biological scaffolds for the purpose of cartilage tissue engineering with applications in tracheal tissue reconstruction. The capability of these scaffolds as cell carrier systems for chondrocytes was determined in vitro and cartilage generation in vivo on engineered chondrocyte-scaffold constructs with and without a perichondrium wrapping was tested in an in vivo nude mouse model. SFCS scaffolds supported chondrocyte adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation, determined as features of the cells based on the spherical cell morphology, increased accumulation of glycosaminoglycans, and increased collagen type II deposition with time within the scaffold framework. Perichondrium wrapping significantly (P<0.001) improved chondrogenesis within the cell-scaffold constructs in vivo. In vivo implantation for 6weeks did not generate cartilage structures resembling native trachea, although cartilage-like structures were present. The mechanical properties of the regenerated tissue increased due to the deposition of chondrogenic matrix within the SFCS scaffold structural framework of the trachea. The support of chondrogenesis by the SFCS tubular scaffold construct resulted in a mechanically sound structure and thus is a step towards an engineered trachea that could potentially support the growth of an epithelial lining resulting in a tracheal transplant with properties resembling those of the fully functional native trachea.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ltd.