Researchers Develop Injectable ECM-Based Biomaterials for Meniscus Repair
Meniscus is a thin layer of connective tissue in the human knee which helps to maintain the stability of joints and conducting mechanical loads. Meniscus injuries, especially those in the avascular inner zone have a poor healing capability and are associated with the development of osteoarthritis.
Decellularized meniscus derived extracellular matrix (mECM) hydrogels holds great potential to promote injured meniscus tissue remodeling and integrative repair.
However, previous studies mainly explored the effect of mECM hydrogel concentration and virous crosslinking methods on scaffold integrity enhancement and the exogenous meniscus cellular response in vitro or ex vivo model. There has been little investigation of the long-term efficacy of mECM hydrogel loaded MSCs in pertinent animal models for meniscus repair.
Recently, a research team led by Dr. YU Yin from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University developed an injectable ECM hydrogel for delivery of bone marrow derived stem cells (BMSCs) to repair the full-thickness meniscus defect in an orthotopic rat model.
The study was published in Bioactive Materials, a leading journal in Materials Science, biomaterials field.
The experimental results indicated that decellularized mECM retained essential proteoglycans and collagens, and significantly upregulated expression of fibrochondrogenic markers by BMSCs compared with collagen hydrogel alone in vitro 3D cell culture.
Even more remarkable is that when applied to an orthotopic model of meniscal injury in SD rat, the histology and micro-CT analysis showed that mECM was superior than CollagenⅠscaffold in reduction of osteophyte formation and prevention of joint space narrowing and osteoarthritis development.
In summary, these results indicated that mECM hydrogel is a highly promising carrier to deliver MSCs for long-term repair of meniscus tissue, and then preventing the development of osteoarthritis.
Schematic diagram of injectable ECM hydrogel for delivery of BMSCs (Image by SIAT)