Treatments for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc thinning and perforation, conditions prevalent in TMJ pathologies, are palliative but not reparative. To address this, scaffold-free tissue-engineered implants were created using allogeneic, passaged costal chondrocytes. A combination of compressive and bioactive stimulation regimens produced implants with mechanical properties akin to those of the native disc. Efficacy in repairing disc thinning was examined in minipigs. Compared to empty controls, treatment with tissue-engineered implants restored disc integrity by inducing 4.4 times more complete defect closure, formed 3.4-fold stiffer repair tissue, and promoted 3.2-fold stiffer intralaminar fusion. The osteoarthritis score (indicative of degenerative changes) of the untreated group was 3.0-fold of the implant-treated group. This tissue engineering strategy paves the way for developing tissue-engineered implants as clinical treatments for TMJ disc thinning.
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