Treatment of full thickness cartilage defects in human knees with Autologous Chondrocyte Transplantation

J Res Med Sci. 2011 Jul;16(7):855-61.


Background: Although a variety of strategies have been employed for managing articular cartilage defects in the knee, overall outcomes have not been satisfactory. An alternative option may be autologous chondrocyte transplantation (ACT). However, as this method is still under investigation, here we assessed the efficacy of ACT for human knee defect cartilage repair.

Methods: In a randomized clinical trial study, eleven patients (mean age 31.09 years) were enrolled in the study with full thickness cartilage defects in the knee. Arthroscopically, healthy cartilage was obtained, chondrocytes expanded for 2-3 weeks and ACT performed. Clinical status was evaluated before ACT, 6 and 12 months after ACT using the Brittberg-Peterson functional assessment and modified Cincinnati rating score. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings were evaluated based on the scoring systems used by Sally Roberts and by Henderson.

Results: Modified Cincinnati rating indicated significant improvement of clinical score before ACT compared to 6 (p = 0.000) and 12 (p = 0.000) months after ACT (from 2.73 before ACT to 7.27, 8.36 and 9.5 at 6, 12, and 48 months after ACT, respectively). Brittberg-Peterson functional assessment indicated a decline from 79.27 to 25.82 and 19.27 at 6 and 12 months post ACT. Further, statistical test demonstrated significant differences 6, 12 and 48 months post ACT (p = 0.007). Evaluation of MRI revealed a score of 6.5 for Henderson criteria and a score of 2.5 for Robert criteria.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that ACT of the knee provides an excellent treatment for full thickness cartilage defects with outstanding clinical and radiological outcomes.

Keywords: Articular Cartilage; Autologus Chondrocyte Transplantation; Full Thickness Cartilage Defect; Knee.