Objective: The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of nasal septal chondrocytes, propagated in microcarrier spinner culture, as an alternative tissue source of chondrocytic cells for cartilage grafts for head and neck surgery and for articular cartilage repair. Methods: We harvested chondrocytes from 159 patients, ranging in age from 15 to 80 years and undergoing repair of a deviated nasal septum, and propagated the cells in a microcarrier spinner culture system. The nasal chondrocytes proliferated and produced extracellular matrix components similar to that produced by articular chondrocytes. Results: In microcarrier spinner culture on collagen beads, chondrocyte numbers increased up to 14-fold in 2 weeks. After a month, the microcarriers seeded with nasal chondrocytes began to aggregate, producing a dense cartilage-like material. The newly synthesized extracellular matrix was rich in high molecular weight proteoglycans, and the chondrocytes expressed type II collagen and aggrecan but not type I collagen. Conclusion: These studies support the feasibility of engineering cartilage tissue using chondrocytes harvested from the nasal septum. Injectable and solid formulations based on this technology are being evaluated for applications in craniomaxillofacial reconstructive surgery and for plastic and orthopedic surgery practices.
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