Meniscus Tissue Engineering Using a Novel Combination of Electrospun Scaffolds and Human Meniscus Cells Embedded Within an Extracellular Matrix Hydrogel

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Meniscus injury and degeneration have been linked to the development of secondary osteoarthritis (OA). Therapies that successfully repair or replace the meniscus are, therefore, likely to prevent or delay OA progression. We investigated the novel approach of building layers of aligned polylactic acid (PLA) electrospun (ES) scaffolds with human meniscus cells embedded in extracellular matrix (ECM) hydrogel to lead to formation of neotissues that resemble meniscus-like tissue. PLA ES scaffolds with randomly oriented or aligned fibers were seeded with human meniscus cells derived from vascular or avascular regions. Cell viability, cell morphology, and gene expression profiles were monitored via confocal microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), respectively. Seeded scaffolds were used to produce multilayered constructs and were examined via histology and immunohistochemistry. Morphology and mechanical properties of PLA scaffolds (with and without cells) were influenced by fiber direction of the scaffolds. Both PLA scaffolds supported meniscus tissue formation with increased COL1A1, SOX9, and COMP, yet no difference in gene expression was found between random and aligned PLA scaffolds. Overall, ES materials, which possess mechanical strength of meniscus and can support neotissue formation, show potential for use in cell-based meniscus regeneration strategies. © 2015 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 33:572–583, 2015.

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