Temporomandibular joint regeneration: proposal of a novel treatment for condylar resorption after orthognathic surgery using transplantation of autologous nasal septum chondrocytes, and the first human case report

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2018 Apr 7;9(1):94. doi: 10.1186/s13287-018-0806-4.


Background: Upon orthognathic mandibular advancement surgery the adjacent soft tissues can displace the distal bone segment and increase the load on the temporomandibular joint causing loss of its integrity. Remodeling of the condyle and temporal fossa with destruction of condylar cartilage and subchondral bone leads to postsurgical condylar resorption, with arthralgia and functional limitations. Patients with severe lesions are refractory to conservative treatments, leading to more invasive therapies that range from simple arthrocentesis to open surgery and prosthesis. Although aggressive and with a high risk for the patient, surgical invasive treatments are not always efficient in managing the degenerative lesions.

Methods: We propose a regenerative medicine approach using in-vitro expanded autologous cells from nasal septum applied to the first proof-of-concept patient. After the required quality controls, the cells were injected into each joint by arthrocentesis. Results were monitored by functional assays and image analysis using computed tomography.

Results: The cell injection fully reverted the condylar resorption, leading to functional and structural regeneration after 6 months. Computed tomography images showed new cortical bone formation filling the former cavity space, and a partial recovery of condylar and temporal bones. The superposition of the condyle models showed the regeneration of the bone defect, reconstructing the condyle original form.

Conclusions: We propose a new treatment of condylar resorption subsequent to orthognathic surgery, presently treated only by alloplastic total joint replacement. We propose an intra-articular injection of autologous in-vitro expanded cells from the nasal septum. The proof-of-concept treatment of a selected patient that had no alternative therapeutic proposal has given promising results, reaching full regeneration of both the condylar cartilage and bone at 6 months after the therapy, which was fully maintained after 1 year. This first case is being followed by inclusion of new patients with a similar pathological profile to complete an ongoing stage I/II study.

Trial registration: This clinical trial is approved by the National Commission of Ethics in Medical Research (CONEP), Brazil, CAAE 12484813.0.0000.5245, and retrospectively registered in the Brazilian National Clinical Trials Registry and in the USA Clinical Trials Registry under the Universal Trial Number (UTN) U1111-1194-6997 .

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Regeneration*
  • Bone Resorption / pathology
  • Bone Resorption / surgery*
  • Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nasal Septum / cytology
  • Orthognathic Surgery / methods*
  • Temporomandibular Joint / physiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint / surgery*
  • Transplantation, Autologous