Naturally occurring biomaterials, such as small intestine submucosa (SIS), are attractive as potential scaffolds for engineering various tissue types. The aim of this study was to determine whether acellular SIS scaffolds can support cell attachment and ingrowth in a diarthroadial joint without significant intraarticular hemorrhage. Disks of porcine SIS were arthoscopically implanted freely within a randomized knee joint of 21 dogs and harvested 1, 2, 3, and 6 weeks postoperatively. Harvested disks were assessed for gross and histologic appearance, cellular infiltration, and immunoreactivity of collagenase and collagen types I and II. Knee synovium and synovial fluid were also evaluated. All disks were thickened and opacified at harvest. Eleven disks (52%) had adhered to intraarticular tissues and cellular infiltration into the disks was positively correlated with tissue adherence. Further, tissue adherence was positively correlated with duration of intraarticular implantation. Five disks (24%) contained focal areas of homogeneous extracellular matrix. A trend toward more collagenase immunoreactivity was noted in the 3-week disks. Collagen type I was present in remaining SIS and extracellular matrix associated with infiltrated cells. Placed freely within a joint, acellular SIS disks underwent cellular and extracellular matrix modification resulting in fibrocartilage-like tissue. Utilization of SIS as a scaffold for intraarticular tissue-engineering applications is supported as cytoconductivity, appropriate residence time, and absence of untoward effects of implantation are desirable criteria for a tissue-engineering biomaterial.
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