The Potential of Combination Therapeutics for More Complete Repair of Volumetric Muscle Loss Injuries: The Role of Exogenous Growth Factors and/or Progenitor Cells in Implantable Skeletal Muscle Tissue Engineering Technologies

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Despite the robust regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle, there are a variety of congenital and acquired conditions in which the volume of skeletal muscle loss results in major permanent functional and cosmetic deficits. These latter injuries are referred to as volumetric muscle loss (VML) injuries or VML-like conditions, and they are characterized by the simultaneous absence of multiple tissue components (i.e., nerves, vessels, muscles, satellite cells, and matrix). There are currently no effective treatment options. Regenerative medicine/tissue engineering technologies hold great potential for repair of these otherwise irrecoverable VML injuries. In this regard, three-dimensional scaffolds have been used to deliver sustained amounts of growth factors into a variety of injury models, to modulate host cell recruitment and extracellular matrix remodeling. However, this is a nascent field of research, and more complete functional improvements require more precise control of the spatiotemporal distribution of critical growth factors over a physiologically relevant range. This is especially true for VML injuries where incorporation of a cellular component into the scaffolds might provide not only a source of new tissue formation but also additional signals for host cell migration, recruitment, and survival. To this end, we review the major features of muscle repair and regeneration for largely recoverable injuries, and then discuss recent cell- and/or growth factor-based approaches to repair the more profound and irreversible VML and VML-like injuries. The underlying supposition is that more rationale incorporation of exogenous growth factors and/or cellular components will be required to optimize the regenerative capacity of implantable therapeutics for VML repair.

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