Transdermal photopolymerization, a minimally invasive method for implantation, was used to subcutaneously place a mixture of polymer and isolated chondrocytes to regenerate cartilage tissue in vivo. Semi- interpenetrating networks of varying proportions of poly(ethylene oxide)- dimethacrylate and poly(ethylene oxide) and primary bovine articular chondrocytes were implanted in athymic mice. Four mice (12 implants) were harvested at 2, 4, and 7 weeks. Chondrocytes survived implantation and photopolymerization and formed neocartilage containing 1.5 to 2.9% wet weight collagen and 4 to 7% glycosaminoglycan. Thirty-five percent of the total collagen was type II collagen. Histologic analysis exhibited tissue structure resembling neocartilage, and safranin O staining demonstrated glycosaminoglycan distribution throughout the hydrogels. This study demonstrates the potential use of transdermal photopolymerization for minimally invasive subcutaneous implantation of hydrogels and chondrocytes for in vivo cartilage regeneration.
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