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Engineering self-assembled neomenisci through combination of matrix augmentation and directional remodeling.


Knee meniscus injury is frequent, resulting in over 1 million surgeries annually in the United States and Europe. Because of the near-avascularity of this fibrocartilaginous tissue and its intrinsic lack of healing, tissue engineering has been proposed as a solution for meniscus repair and replacement. This study describes an approach employing bioactive stimuli to enhance both extracellular matrix content and organization of neomenisci toward augmenting their mechanical properties. Self-assembled fibrocartilages were treated with TGF-β1, chondroitinase ABC, and lysyl oxidase-like 2 (collectively termed TCL) in addition to lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). TCL + LPA treatment synergistically improved circumferential tensile stiffness and strength, significantly enhanced collagen and pyridinoline crosslink content per dry weight, and achieved tensile anisotropy (circumferential/radial) values of neomenisci close to 4. This study utilizes a combination of bioactive stimuli for use in tissue engineering studies, providing a promising path toward deploying these neomenisci as functional repair and replacement tissues. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: This study utilizes a scaffold-free approach, which strays from the tissue engineering paradigm of using scaffolds with cells and bioactive factors to engineer neotissue. While self-assembled neomenisci have attained compressive properties akin to native tissue, tensile properties still require improvement before being able to deploy engineered neomenisci as functional tissue repair or replacement options. In order to augment tensile properties, this study utilized bioactive factors known to augment matrix content in combination with a soluble factor that enhances matrix organization and anisotropy via cell traction forces. Using a bioactive factor to enhance matrix organization mitigates the need for bioreactors used to apply mechanical stimuli or scaffolds to induce proper fiber alignment.

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