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Biological augmentation and tissue engineering approaches in meniscus surgery.



The purpose of this review was to evaluate the role of biological augmentation and tissue engineering strategies in meniscus surgery. Although clinical (human), preclinical (animal), and in vitro tissue engineering studies are included here, we have placed additional focus on addressing preclinical and clinical studies reported during the 5-year period used in this review in a systematic fashion while also providing a summary review of some important in vitro tissue engineering findings in the field over the past decade.


A search was performed on PubMed for original works published from 2009 to March 31, 2014 using the term "meniscus" with all the following terms: "scaffolds," "constructs," "cells," "growth factors," "implant," "tissue engineering," and "regenerative medicine." Inclusion criteria were the following: English-language articles and original clinical, preclinical (in vivo), and in vitro studies of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine application in knee meniscus lesions published from 2009 to March 31, 2014.


Three clinical studies and 18 preclinical studies were identified along with 68 tissue engineering in vitro studies. These reports show the increasing promise of biological augmentation and tissue engineering strategies in meniscus surgery. The role of stem cell and growth factor therapy appears to be particularly useful. A review of in vitro tissue engineering studies found a large number of scaffold types to be of promise for meniscus replacement. Limitations include a relatively low number of clinical or preclinical in vivo studies, in addition to the fact there is as yet no report in the literature of a tissue-engineered meniscus construct used clinically. Neither does the literature provide clarity on the optimal meniscus scaffold type or biological augmentation with which meniscus repair or replacement would be best addressed in the future. There is increasing focus on the role of mechanobiology and biomechanical and biochemical cues in this process, however, and it is hoped that this may lead to improvements in this strategy.


There appears to be significant potential for biological augmentation and tissue engineering strategies in meniscus surgery to enhance options for repair and replacement. However, there are still relatively few clinical studies being reported in this regard. There is a strong need for improved translational activities and infrastructure to link the large amounts of in vitro and preclinical biological and tissue engineering data to clinical application.

Level of evidence

Level IV, systematic review of Level I-IV studies.

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