Harnessing Biomechanics to Develop Cartilage Regeneration Strategies
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1115/1.4028825
As this review was prepared specifically for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers H.R. Lissner Medal, it primarily discusses work toward cartilage regeneration performed in Dr. Kyriacos A. Athanasiou's laboratory over the past 25 years. The prevalence and severity of degeneration of articular cartilage, a tissue whose main function is largely biomechanical, have motivated the development of cartilage tissue engineering approaches informed by biomechanics. This article provides a review of important steps toward regeneration of articular cartilage with suitable biomechanical properties. As a first step, biomechanical and biochemical characterization studies at the tissue level were used to provide design criteria for engineering neotissues. Extending this work to the single cell and subcellular levels has helped to develop biochemical and mechanical stimuli for tissue engineering studies. This strong mechanobiological foundation guided studies on regenerating hyaline articular cartilage, the knee meniscus, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) fibrocartilage. Initial tissue engineering efforts centered on developing biodegradable scaffolds for cartilage regeneration. After many years of studying scaffold-based cartilage engineering, scaffoldless approaches were developed to address deficiencies of scaffold-based systems, resulting in the self-assembling process. This process was further improved by employing exogenous stimuli, such as hydrostatic pressure, growth factors, and matrix-modifying and catabolic agents, both singly and in synergistic combination to enhance neocartilage functional properties. Due to the high cell needs for tissue engineering and the limited supply of native articular chondrocytes, costochondral cells are emerging as a suitable cell source. Looking forward, additional cell sources are investigated to render these technologies more translatable. For example, dermis isolated adult stem (DIAS) cells show potential as a source of chondrogenic cells. The challenging problem of enhanced integration of engineered cartilage with native cartilage is approached with both familiar and novel methods, such as lysyl oxidase (LOX). These diverse tissue engineering strategies all aim to build upon thorough biomechanical characterizations to produce functional neotissue that ultimately will help combat the pressing problem of cartilage degeneration. As our prior research is reviewed, we look to establish new pathways to comprehensively and effectively address the complex problems of musculoskeletal cartilage regeneration.