Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.118, No.1, 465-480, 2021
Assessment of the in vivo biofunctionality of a biomimetic hybrid scaffold for osteochondral tissue regeneration
Chondral and osteochondral lesions represent one of the most challenging problems in the orthopedic field, as these types of injuries lead to disability and worsened quality of life for patients and have an economic impact on the healthcare system. The aim of this in vivo study was to develop a new tissue engineering approach through a hybrid scaffold for osteochondral tissue regeneration made of porous polyurethane foam (PU) coated under vacuum with calcium phosphates (PU/VAC). Scaffold characterization showed a highly porous and interconnected structure. Human amniotic mesenchymal stromal cells (hAMSCs) were loaded into scaffolds using pectin (PECT) as a carrier. Osteochondral defects in medial femoral condyles of rabbits were created and randomly allocated in one of the following groups: plain scaffold (PU/VAC), scaffold with hAMSCs injected in the implant site (PU/VAC/hAMSC), scaffold with hAMSCs loaded in pectin (PU/VAC/PECT/hAMSC), and no treated defects (untreated). The therapeutic efficacy was assessed by macroscopic, histological, histomorphometric, microtomographic, and ultrastructural analyses at 3, 6, 12, and 24 weeks. Histological results showed that the scaffold was permissive to tissue growth and penetration, an immature osteocartilaginous tissue was observed at early experimental times, with a more accentuated bone regeneration in comparison with the cartilage layer in the absence of any inflammatory reaction.