Injection of polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) or collagen has been used in the endoscopic treatment of vesicoureteral reflux. Although the principle of an endoscopic treatment is valid, there are concerns regarding the long-term safety and effectiveness of these substances. The goal of several investigators has been to find alternate implant materials that would be safe for human use. Toward this goal we conducted a study to determine the effect of chondrocytes using a biodegradable polymer solution as a template. Hyaline cartilage was obtained from the articular surfaces of calf shoulders and chondrocytes were harvested. Chondrocyte suspensions were concentrated to 20, 30 and 40 x 106 cells per cc and mixed with dry alginate powder (a biodegradable polymer) to form a gel. Twelve athymic mice were injected subcutaneously with a chondrocyte-alginate solution. Each mouse had 4 injection sites, consisting of control, 10, 15 and 20 x 106 chondrocyte cells (48 injection sites). Mice were sacrificed at 2, 4, 6 and 12 weeks after injection. Histological examination of the injection sites demonstrated evidence of cartilage formation in 34 of the 36 experimental injection sites. Gross examination of the injection sites with increasing time showed that the polymer gels were progressively replaced by cartilage. The ultimate size of the cartilage formed was related to the initial chondrocyte concentration injected, and appeared to be uniform and stable within each category. There was no evidence of cartilage formation in the 12 controls. Histological analyses of distant organs showed no evidence of cartilage or alginate gel migration, or granuloma formation. In conclusion, chondrocyte-alginate gel suspensions are injectable, appear to be nonmigratory and are able to conserve their volume. In addition, the use of autologous cartilage cells would preclude an immunological reaction. These preliminary studies indicate that autologous cartilage-polymer gel solutions may be potentially useful in the endoscopic treatment of reflux.
- vesico-ureteral reflux
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