Scientific article

Articular cartilage repair after implantation of hyaline cartilage beads engineered from adult dedifferentiated chondrocytes: cartibeads preclinical efficacy study in a large animal model

Published inThe American journal of sports medicine, vol. 51, no. 1, p. 237-249
Publication date2023-01

Background: Chondrocyte-based cell therapy to repair cartilage has been used for >25 years despite current limitations. This work presents a new treatment option for cartilage lesions.

Hypothesis: High-quality hyaline cartilage microtissues called Cartibeads are capable of treating focal chondral lesions once implanted in the defect, by complete fusion of Cartibeads among themselves and their integration with the surrounding native cartilage and subchondral bone.

Study design: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: Cartibeads were first produced from human donors and characterized using histology (safranin O staining of glycosaminoglycan [GAG] and immunohistochemistry of collagen I and II) and GAG dosage. Cartibeads from 6 Göttingen minipigs were engineered and implanted in an autologous condition in the knee (4 or 5 lesions per knee). One group was followed up for 3 months and the other for 6 months. Feasibility and efficacy were measured using histological analysis and macroscopic and microscopic scores.

Results: Cartibeads revealed hyaline features with strong staining of GAG and collagen II. High GAG content was obtained: 24.6-µg/mg tissue (wet weight), 15.52-µg/mg tissue (dry weight), and 35 ± 3-µg GAG/bead (mean ± SD). Histological analysis of Göttingen minipigs showed good integration of Cartibeads grafts at 3 and 6 months after implantation. The Bern Score of the histological assay comparing grafted versus empty lesions was significant at 3 months (grafted, n = 10; nongrafted, n = 4; score, 3.3 and 5.3, respectively) and 6 months (grafted, n = 11; nongrafted, n = 3; score, 1.6 and 5.1).

Conclusion: We developed an innovative 3-step method allowing, for the first time, the use of fully dedifferentiated adult chondrocytes with a high number of cell passage (owing to the extensive amplification in culture). Cartibeads engineered from chondrocytes hold potential as an advanced therapy medicinal product for treating cartilage lesions with established efficacy.

Clinical relevance: This successful preclinical study, combined with standardized manufacturing of Cartibeads according to good manufacturing practice guidelines, led to the approval of first-in-human clinical trial by the ethics committee and local medical authority. The generated data highlighted a promising therapy to treat cartilage lesions from a small amount of starting biopsy specimen. With our innovative cell amplification technology, very large lesions can be treated, and older active patients can benefit from it.

  • Articular cartilage
  • Autologous hyaline cartilage implantation
  • Dedifferentiation
  • Hyaline cartilage tissue engineering (3D)
  • Microtissues
  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Swine
  • Animals
  • Hyaline Cartilage
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Chondrocytes / transplantation
  • Swine, Miniature
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Collagen
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Models, Animal
  • Transplantation, Autologous
Citation (ISO format)
KUTAISH, Halah et al. Articular cartilage repair after implantation of hyaline cartilage beads engineered from adult dedifferentiated chondrocytes: cartibeads preclinical efficacy study in a large animal model. In: The American journal of sports medicine, 2023, vol. 51, n° 1, p. 237–249. doi: 10.1177/03635465221138099
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0363-5465

Technical informations

Creation01/11/2023 7:36:00 AM
First validation01/11/2023 7:36:00 AM
Update time03/16/2023 10:24:13 AM
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