Histomorphometric Analysis of a Cell-Based Model of Cartilage Repair
AbstractThis study examined the morphology of chondrocytes in an established model of articular cartilage repair. Articular cartilage was harvested from young sheep and seeded onto pieces of devitalized sheep cartilage. The seeded pieces were stacked in pairs and wrapped in fibrin glue, and then implanted subcutaneously in the dorsum of athymic mice. Samples were harvested after 6 weeks and examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) or by light microscopy. TEM revealed that the cells in direct apposition to the devitalized cartilage were elongated, with an enlarged cytoplasm, and a ruffled border. TEM of cells far from the interface with scaffold tissue revealed rounded cells with large nuclei that appeared similar to normal chondrocytes. Quantitative morphometry of histologic specimens revealed that cell area, relative amount of cytoplasm, cell aspect ratio, and relative nuclear displacement were all higher in cells near the interface with the scaffold tissue, and decreased with distance from the interface. These indices of cell morphology are all consistent with an active remodeling of the scaffold at the cell–scaffold interface.