Biomedical materials (Bristol, England)

Preparation and characterization of a decellularized cartilage scaffold for ear cartilage reconstruction.

PMID 25586138


Scaffolds are widely used to reconstruct cartilage. Yet, the fabrication of a scaffold with a highly organized microenvironment that closely resembles native cartilage remains a major challenge. Scaffolds derived from acellular extracellular matrices are able to provide such a microenvironment. Currently, no report specifically on decellularization of full thickness ear cartilage has been published. In this study, decellularized ear cartilage scaffolds were prepared and extensively characterized. Cartilage decellularization was optimized to remove cells and cell remnants from elastic cartilage. Following removal of nuclear material, the obtained scaffolds retained their native collagen and elastin contents as well as their architecture and shape. High magnification scanning electron microscopy showed no obvious difference in matrix density after decellularization. However, glycosaminoglycan content was significantly reduced, resulting in a loss of viscoelastic properties. Additionally, in contact with the scaffolds, human bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells remained viable and are able to differentiate toward the chondrogenic lineage when cultured in vitro. These results, including the ability to decellularize whole human ears, highlight the clinical potential of decellularization as an improved cartilage reconstruction strategy.