The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc is a fibrocartilaginous tissue located between the condyle of the mandible and glenoid fossa and articular eminence of the temporal bone. Damage or derangement of the TMJ disc can require surgical removal (discectomy) to restore function. Removal of the TMJ disc, however, leaves the joint space vulnerable to condylar remodeling and degradation, potentially leading to long-term complications. No consistently effective clinical option exists for repair or replacement of the disc following discectomy. This study investigates the use of an acellular scaffold composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from small intestinal submucosa (SIS) as a regenerative template for the TMJ disc in a porcine model. Acellular SIS ECM scaffolds were implanted following discectomy and allowed to remodel for 2, 4, 12, and 24 weeks postimplantation. Remodeling of the implanted device was assessed by longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) over the course of 6 months, as well as gross morphologic, histologic, biochemical, and biomechanical analysis (tension and compression) of explanted tissues (disc and condyle) at the time of sacrifice. When the scaffold remained in the joint space, longitudinal MRI demonstrated that the scaffolds promoted new tissue formation within the joint space throughout the study period. The scaffolds were rapidly populated with host-derived cells and remodeled with formation of new, dense, aligned fibrocartilage resembling native tissue as early as 1 month postimplantation. De-novo formation of peripheral muscular and tendinous attachments resembling those in native tissue was also observed. The remodeled scaffolds approached native disc biochemical composition and compressive modulus, and possessed 50% of the tensile modulus within 3 months postimplantation. No degradation of the condylar surface was observed. These results suggest that this acellular bioscaffold fills a medical need for which there is currently no effective treatment and may represent a clinically relevant "off-the-shelf"implant for reconstruction of the TMJ disc.
- extracellular matrix scaffold
- small intestine submucosa
- temporomandibular joint disc
- tissue regeneration