Age dependence of cellular properties of human septal cartilage: implications for tissue engineering

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Tissue Engineering, Department of Anesthesiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; Age Factors; Biomedical Engineering; Cartilage; Cells, Cultured; Chondrocytes; Cytological Techniques; DNA; Humans; Middle Aged; Nasal Septum


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


BACKGROUND: The persistent need for cartilage replacement material in head and neck surgery has led to novel cell culture methods developed to engineer cartilage. Currently, there is no consensus on an optimal source of cells for these endeavors. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate human nasal cartilage as a potential source of chondrocytes and to determine the effect of donor age on cellular and proliferation characteristics. SUBJECTS: Nasal cartilage specimens were obtained after reconstructive surgery from 46 patients ranging in age from 15 to 60 years. METHODS: Specimens were weighed and chondrocytes were isolated by digestion in 0.2% collagenase type II for 16 hours. Cells were maintained in primary cultures until confluency, then seeded onto polylactic acid-polyglycolic acid scaffolds. Seeding efficiency was determined by quantification of DNA content of seeded constructs by means of Hoechst dye 33258. Specimen weights, cell yields, cell content, and doubling time were also measured and correlated to donor age. RESULTS: Mean (+/-SD) cartilage mass obtained (648 +/- 229 mg) is higher than from typical biopsy specimens of auricular cartilage, and the cellular characteristics show a higher proliferation rate than auricular chondrocytes. Cell yield increased with age, while doubling time decreased with age in samples from patients ranging from 15 to 60 years old. CONCLUSIONS: The use of nasal septal cartilage as a source of cells for tissue engineering may be valid over a wide range of patient ages. The large tissue yield and consequent cell yield make this tissue a potential starting source of chondrocytes for large-volume tissue-engineered implants.

DOI of Published Version



Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001 Oct;127(10):1248-52.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Archives of otolaryngology--head and neck surgery

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Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID