Meniscal transplantation was performed in two groups of 15 adult goats each, using cryopreserved (group I) and deep-frozen (group II) allografts. Animals were killed at 2 weeks, 1, 3, 6 and 12 months, and a gross, histological and biochemical (water and glycosaminoglycan) evaluation of the menisci was performed. The allografts of both groups showed a normal gross appearance and had in most cases healed at the horn attachments and at the peripheral capsular tissue with a dense scar tissue and no signs of rejection. Histological analysis showed that at 2 weeks in group I the cell number was decreased compared with the controls, and the cells were mainly distributed in the superficial layers. In group II at 2 weeks, only a few cells were present at the peripheral attachment of the menisci. At 1 month in both groups, the cell repopulation can be seen extending from the peripheral area to the superficial layers. Cell proliferation and vascularization are particularly evident in both groups in the 3-month samples. At 6 months and 1 year the grafts can be seen to be completely remodelled and morphologically similar to normal menisci in both groups. Biochemical analysis showed in both groups an increase in water content and a progressive decrease in the concentration of glycosaminoglycans. At 1 year in both groups, there were moderate degenerative changes in the articular cartilage of the tibial plateau, which were more evident in the area of exposed cartilage than in that covered by the meniscus. These results suggest that there are no significant differences between the cryopreserved and deep-frozen grafts, and that even if cryopreservation makes it possible to maintain a partial cell viability in the tissue, this does not seem to improve the morphological and biochemical characteristics of the graft.
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