Tissue engineering for total meniscal substitution: animal study in sheep model--results at 12 months

Tissue Eng Part A. 2012 Aug;18(15-16):1573-82. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2011.0572. Epub 2012 Jul 2.


The aim of the study was to investigate the use of a hyaluronic acid/polycaprolactone material for meniscal tissue engineering and to evaluate the tissue regeneration after the augmentation of the implant with expanded autologous chondrocytes. Eighteen skeletally mature sheep were treated. The animals were divided into three groups: cell-free scaffold, scaffold seeded with autologous chondrocytes, and meniscectomy alone. The implant was sutured to the capsule and to the meniscal ligament. At a 12-month gross assessment, histology and histomorphometry were used to assess the meniscus implant, knee joint, and osteoarthritis development. All implants showed excellent capsular ingrowth at the periphery. The implant gross assessment showed significant differences between cell-seeded and cell-free groups (p=0.011). The histological analysis indicated a cellular colonization throughout the implanted constructs. Avascular cartilaginous tissue formation was significantly more frequent in the cell-seeded constructs. Joint gross assessment showed that sheep treated with scaffold implantation achieved a significant higher score than those underwent meniscectomy (p<0.0005), and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International score showed that osteoarthritic changes were significantly less in the cell-seeded group than in the meniscectomy group (p=0.047), even though results were not significantly superior to those of the cell-free scaffold. Seeding of the scaffold with autologous chondrocytes increases its tissue regeneration capacity, providing a better fibrocartilaginous tissue formation. The study suggests the potential of the novel hyaluronic acid/polycaprolactone scaffold for total meniscal substitution, although this approach has to be further improved before being applied into clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Implants, Experimental*
  • Menisci, Tibial / surgery*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Sheep, Domestic / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry