Mater Today Bio. 2022 Jul 5;16:100343. doi: 10.1016/j.mtbio.2022.100343. eCollection 2022 Dec.
Articular cartilage defects fail to heal spontaneously, typically progressing to osteoarthritis. Bone marrow stimulation techniques such as microfracture (MFX) are the current surgical standard of care; however MFX typically produces an inferior fibro-cartilaginous tissue which provides only temporary symptomatic relief. Here we implanted solubilised articular cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) derived scaffolds into critically sized chondral defects in goats, securely anchoring these implants to the joint surface using a 3D-printed fixation device that overcame the need for sutures or glues. In vitro these ECM scaffolds were found to be inherently chondro-inductive, while in vivo they promoted superior articular cartilage regeneration compared to microfracture. In an attempt to further improve the quality of repair, we loaded these scaffolds with a known chemotactic factor, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β3. In vivo such TGF-β3 loaded scaffolds promoted superior articular cartilage regeneration. This study demonstrates that ECM derived biomaterials, either alone and particularly when combined with exogenous growth factors, can successfully treat articular cartilage defects in a clinically relevant large animal model.