Articular cartilage injuries occur frequently in the knee joint. Photopolymerizable cartilage tissue engineering approaches appear promising; however, fundamentally, forming a stable interface between the subchondral bone and tissue engineered cartilage components remains a major challenge. We investigated the utility of hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles to promote controlled bone-growth across the bone-cartilage interface in an in vitro engineered tissue model system using bone marrow derived stem cells. Samples incorporated with HA demonstrated significantly higher interfacial shear strength (at the junction between engineered cartilage and engineered bone) compared with the constructs without HA (p < 0.05), after 28 days of culture. Interestingly, this increased interfacial shear strength due to the presence of HA was observed as early as 7 days and appeared to have sustained itself for an additional three weeks without interacting with strength increases attributable to subsequent secretion of engineered tissue matrix. Histological evidence showed that there was ∼7.5% bone in-growth into the cartilage region from the bone side. The mechanism of enhanced engineered cartilage to bone integration with HA incorporation appeared to be facilitated by the deposition of calcium phosphate in the transition zone. These findings indicate that controlled bone in-growth using HA incorporation permits more stable anchorage of the injectable hydrogel-based engineered cartilage construct via augmented integration between bone and cartilage.
Keywords: bone in-growth; cartilage; hydrogel; hydroxyapatite; tissue engineering.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.