Objective To investigate a commercially available fibrin sealant as a vehicle for developing injectable tissue-engineered cartilage.
Methods Fibrin glue was mixed with autogenous chondrocytes from rabbits (n = 15). This isolate was injected along their nasal dorsa using 1 of 3 different fibrin glue concentrations. The samples were harvested at 8 weeks and compared with elastin and hyaline cartilage controls.
Results Neocartilage was created along a linear injection tract on the dorsa of the nasal bones in 5 of 15 rabbits. Higher thrombin concentrations proved to be directly correlated with successful creation of injectable cartilage. Histologically, the staining patterns of both hematoxylin-eosin and safranin O stains were identical to that of normal auricular control cartilage. The presence of elastin fibers was observed following Verhoeff staining. No foreign body reaction was observed from the host.
Conclusions This study demonstrated a successful method for percutaneous injection of tissue-engineered cartilage as a mixture of chondrocytes suspended in fibrin glue. The thrombin concentration, along with the concentration of fibrinogen and chondrocytes, must be optimized to succeed consistently in cartilage growth.