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Long-term mechanical function and integration of an implanted tissue-engineered intervertebral disc.


Tissue engineering holds great promise for the treatment of advanced intervertebral disc degeneration. However, assessment of in vivo integration and mechanical function of tissue-engineered disc replacements over the long term, in large animal models, will be necessary to advance clinical translation. To that end, we developed tissue-engineered, endplate-modified disc-like angle ply structures (eDAPS) sized for the rat caudal and goat cervical spines that recapitulate the hierarchical structure of the native disc. Here, we demonstrate functional maturation and integration of these eDAPS in a rat caudal disc replacement model, with compressive mechanical properties reaching native values after 20 weeks in vivo and evidence of functional integration under physiological loads. To further this therapy toward clinical translation, we implanted eDAPS sized for the human cervical disc space in a goat cervical disc replacement model. Our results demonstrate maintenance of eDAPS composition and structure up to 8 weeks in vivo in the goat cervical disc space and maturation of compressive mechanical properties to match native levels. These results demonstrate the translational feasibility of disc replacement with a tissue-engineered construct for the treatment of advanced disc degeneration. Copyright © 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.