Matrix generation within a macroporous non-degradable implant for osteochondral defects is not enhanced with partial enzymatic digestion of the surrounding tissue: evaluation in an in vivo rabbit model
Aaron J. Krych, Florian Wanivenhaus, Kenneth W. Ng, Stephen Doty, Russell F. Warren, Suzanne A. Maher
Articular cartilage defects are a significant source of pain, have limited ability to heal, and can lead to the development of osteoarthritis. However, a surgical solution is not available. To tackle this clinical problem, non-degradable implants capable of carrying mechanical load immediately after implantation and for the duration of implantation, while integrating with the host tissue, may be viable option. But integration between articular cartilage and non-degradable implants is not well studied. Our objective was to assess the in vivo performance of a novel macroporous, nondegradable, polyvinyl alcohol construct. We hypothesized that matrix generation within the implant would be enhanced with partial digestion of the edges of articular cartilage. Our hypothesis was tested by randomizing an osteochondral defect created in the trochlea of 14 New Zealand white rabbits to treatment with: (i) collagenase or (ii) saline, prior to insertion of the implant. At 1 and 3-month post-operatively, the gross morphology and histologic appearance of the implants and the surrounding tissue were assessed. At 3 months, the mechanical properties of the implant were also quantified. Overall, the hydrogel implants performed favorably; at all time-points and in all groups the implants remained well fixed, did not cause inflammation or synovitis, and did not cause extensive damage to the opposing articular cartilage. Regardless of treatment with saline or collagenase, at 1 month post-operatively implants from both groups had a contiguous interface with adjacent cartilage and were populated with chondrocyte-like cells. At 3 months fibrous encapsulation of all implants was evident, there was no difference between area of aggrecan staining in the collagenase versus saline groups, and implant modulus was similar in both groups; leading us to reject our hypothesis. In summary, a porous PVA osteochondral implant remained well fixed in a short term in vivo osteochondral defect model; however, matrix generation within the implant was not enhanced with partial digestion of adjacent articular cartilage.