Reengineering the TMJ Disc: An Evaluation Of Scaffold Design, Cell Incorporation, And Mechanically Stimulated Functionalization

Date(s) - 03/20/2014
2:00 pm

Cassandra Juran, PhD Candidate

Functioning primarily as a stress distribution bumper within the joint, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc is susceptible to numerous pathologies that may lead to structural degradation and jaw dysfunction.  The limited treatment options and debilitating nature of severe Temporomandibular Disorders has been the primary driving force for the introduction and development of TMJ disc Tissue Engineering as an approach to alleviate this priority clinical issue.

A great deal of promise has been shown with the application of tissue engineering principles to regenerate “living” tissues, that would ideally accommodate typical loads of the joint and regain physiologic functionality.  The branches of study investigated thus far have primarily focused on synthetic scaffold material, characterizing the native anatomy and physiology, cellular culture technique, and decellularization of TMJ discs.  Cell survival and integration into the scaffold has proven problematic largely due to limited porosity, resulting in poor transport conditions that limit cell migration into the scaffold.

The purpose of my thesis is to utilize a native porcine TMJ disc (pTMJ) as a xenogeneic ex vivo scaffold, and further modify the discs structure to enhance reseeding and transport conditions to create a mechanically and biologically functional disc.  To then evaluate different physiologic mechanical loading conditions influence on the remodeling, cell phenotype, and mechanical viability of the disc.