We recently developed a promising regenerative method based on the xenotransplantation of human cartilage progenitor cells, demonstrating self-renewing elastic cartilage reconstruction with expected long-term tissue restoration. However, it remains unclear whether autotransplantation
of cartilage progenitors may work by a similar principle in immunocompetent individuals. We used a nonhuman primate (monkey) model to assess the safety and efficacy of our regenerative approach because the model shares characteristics with humans in terms of biological functions, including
anatomical features. First, we identified the expandable and multipotent progenitor population from monkey ear perichondrium and succeeded in inducing chondrocyte differentiation in vitro. Second, in vivo transplanted progenitor cells were capable of reconstructing elastic cartilage by xenotransplantation
into an immunodeficient mouse. Finally, the autologous monkey progenitor cells were transplanted into the subcutaneous region of a craniofacial section and developed mature elastic cartilage of their own 3 months after transplantation. Furthermore, we attempted to develop a clinically relevant,
noninvasive monitoring method using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Collectively, this report shows that the autologous transplantation of cartilage progenitors is potentially effective for reconstructing elastic cartilage. This principle will be invaluable for repairing craniofacial injuries
and abnormalities in the context of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
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