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Keywords:

  • gellan gum;
  • stem cells;
  • cartilage;
  • tissue engineering;
  • in vivo

Abstract

In this work, the ability of gellan gum hydrogels coupled with autologous cells to regenerate rabbit full-thickness articular cartilage defects was tested. Five study groups were defined: (a) gellan gum with encapsulated chondrogenic predifferentiated rabbit adipose stem cells (ASC + GF); (b) gellan gum with encapsulated nonchondrogenic predifferentiated rabbit adipose stem cells (ASC); (c) gellan gum with encapsulated rabbit articular chondrocytes (AC) (standard control); (d) gellan gum alone (control); (e) empty defect (control). Full-thickness articular cartilage defects were created and the gellan gum constructs were injected and left for 8 weeks. The macroscopic aspect of the explants showed a progressive increase of similarity with the lateral native cartilage, stable integration at the defect site, more pronouncedly in the cell-loaded constructs. Tissue scoring showed that ASC + GF exhibited the best results regarding tissue quality progression. Alcian blue retrieved similar results with a better outcome for the cell-loaded constructs. Regarding real-time PCR analyses, ASC + GF had the best progression with an upregulation of collagen type II and aggrecan, and a downregulation of collagen type I. Gellan gum hydrogels combined with autologous cells constitute a promising approach for the treatment of articular cartilage defects, and adipose derived cells may constitute a valid alternative to currently used articular chondrocytes. © 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 28:1193–1199, 2010