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Biomaterials. 2007 Apr;28(11):1967-77. Epub 2007 Jan 23.

The effect of nanofiber alignment on the maturation of engineered meniscus constructs.

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  • 1McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The fibrocartilaginous menisci are load-bearing tissues vital to the normal functioning of the knee. Removal of damaged regions of the meniscus subsequent to injury impairs knee function and predisposes patients to osteoarthritis. In this study, we employed biodegradable nanofibrous scaffolds for the tissue engineering of the meniscus. Non-aligned (NA) or fiber-aligned (AL) nanofibrous scaffolds were seeded with meniscal fibrochondrocytes (MFCs) or mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to test the hypothesis that fiber-alignment would augment matrix content and organization, resulting in improved mechanical properties. Additionally, we proposed that MSCs could serve as an alternative to MFCs. With time in culture, MSC- and MFC-seeded NA and AL constructs increased in cellularity and extracellular matrix (ECM) content. Counter our initial hypothesis, NA and AL constructs contained comparable amounts of ECM, although a significantly larger increase in mechanical properties was observed for AL compared to NA constructs seeded with either cell type. Cell-seeded NA constructs increased in modulus by approximately 1MPa over 10 weeks while cell-seeded AL construct increased by >7MPa. Additionally, MSC-constructs yielded greater amounts of ECM and demonstrated comparable increases in mechanical properties, thereby confirming the utility of MSCs for meniscus tissue engineering. These results demonstrate that cell-seeded fiber-aligned nanofibrous scaffolds may serve as an instructive micro-pattern for directed tissue growth, reconstituting both the form and function of the native tissue.

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