The menisci are important fibrocartilaginous structures which give lubrication, shock absorption, nutrition and stabilisation to the knee joint, and also help transfer load. The meniscus extracellular matrix possesses a complex architecture which is not uniform throughout the tissue. The inner third of the meniscus is composed of hyaline cartilage and the outer meniscus is composed of fibrocartilage. In a mature meniscus only the outer 10-25% is vascularised. There are various types of pathology associated with the meniscus. Previously, surgical techniques used to be considered as conventional treatment for meniscal lesions. However lesions in the avascular regions of the meniscus would rarely heal appropriately. It has been found that total menisectomies in patients may increase their chance of suffering from osteoarthritis in the future. Meniscal tissue engineering has been developed in an attempt to help improve the healing potential of avascular meniscal regions. Many different concepts and approaches have been tried and tested, such as the application of natural and synthetic scaffolds, mesenchymal stem cells, growth factors, fibrin glue and more. The objective of this review is to summarise the different approaches that have been used in the development of meniscal tissue engineering. The focus of this review is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the studies that have been carried out, and from there determine what we have learnt from them in order to further the development in meniscal tissue engineering.
Keywords: Growth factors, fibrin glue, meniscus, scaffold, stem cell, tissue regeneration, lubrication, shock absorption, nutrition
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