There is an unmet need for a single-stage cartilage repair treatment that is cost-effective and chondrocyte-based.
To evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of autologous freshly isolated primary chondrocytes and bone marrow mononucleated cells (MNCs) seeded into a PolyActive scaffold in patients with symptomatic cartilage lesions of the knee.
Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
A total of 40 patients with symptomatic knee cartilage lesions were treated with freshly isolated autologous chondrocytes combined with bone marrow MNCs delivered in a biodegradable load-bearing scaffold. The treatment requires only 1 surgical intervention and is potentially a cost-effective alternative to autologous chondrocyte implantation. The primary chondrocytes and bone marrow MNCs were isolated, washed, counted, mixed, and seeded into a load-bearing scaffold in the operating room. Patients were followed up at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. Primary endpoints were treatment-related adverse events up to 3 months, adverse implant effects between 3 and 24 months, and the implant success rate at 3 months as measured by lesion filling.
Successful lesion filling (≥67% on magnetic resonance imaging) was found in 40 patients at 3 months and in 32 of the 32 patients analyzed at 24 months. Significant improvement over baseline was found for visual analog scale for pain from 3 months onward; Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS)-Pain and KOOS-Activities of Daily Living from 6 months onward; for KOOS-Symptoms and Stiffness, KOOS-Quality of Life and International Knee Documentation Committee from 12 months onward; and for KOOS-Sport and Recreation from 18 months onward. Hyaline-like repair tissue was found in 22 of 31 patients available for biopsy. Arthralgia and joint effusion were the most common adverse events. Scaffold delamination and adhesions led to removal of the implant in 2 patients.
The treatment of knee cartilage lesions with autologous primary chondrocytes and bone marrow MNCs, both isolated and seeded into a load-bearing PolyActive scaffold within a single surgical intervention, is safe and clinically effective. Good lesion fill and sustained clinically important and statistically significant improvement in all patient-reported outcome scores were found throughout the 24-month study. Hyaline-like cartilage was observed on biopsy specimen in at least 22 of the 40 patients.