Objective: To identify an appropriate cell source for the generation of meniscus substitutes, among those which would be available by arthroscopy of injured knee joints. Methods: Human inner meniscus cells, fat pad cells (FPC), synovial membrane cells (SMC) and articular chondrocytes (AC) were expanded with or without specific growth factors (Transforming growth factor-beta1, Fibroblast growth factor-2 and Platelet-derived growth factor bb, TFP) and then induced to form three-dimensional cartilaginous tissues in pellet cultures, or using a hyaluronan-based scaffold (Hyaff®-11), in culture or in nude mice. Human native menisci were assessed as reference. Results: Cell expansion with TFP enhanced glycosaminoglycan (GAG) deposition by all cell types (up to 4.1-fold) and messenger RNA expression of collagen type II by FPC and SMC (up to 472-fold) following pellet culture. In all models, tissues generated by AC contained the highest fractions of GAG (up to 1.9% of wet weight) and were positively stained for collagen type II (specific of the inner avascular region of meniscus), type IV (mainly present in the outer vascularized region of meniscus) and types I, III and VI (common to both meniscus regions). Instead, inner meniscus, FPC and SMC developed tissues containing negligible GAG and no detectable collagen type II protein. Tissues generated by AC remained biochemically and phenotypically stable upon ectopic implantation. Conclusions: Under our experimental conditions, only AC generated tissues containing relevant amounts of GAG and with cell phenotypes compatible with those of the inner and outer meniscus regions. Instead, the other investigated cell sources formed tissues resembling only the outer region of meniscus. It remains to be determined whether grafts based on AC will have the ability to reach the complex structural and functional organization typical of meniscus tissue.
- Tissue engineering
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine