Fiber development and matrix production in tissue-engineered menisci using bovine mesenchymal stem cells and fibrochondrocytes

Connect Tissue Res. 2017 May-Jul;58(3-4):329-341. doi: 10.1080/03008207.2016.1267152. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been investigated with promising results for meniscus healing and tissue engineering. While MSCs are known to contribute to extracellular matrix (ECM) production, less is known about how MSCs produce and align large organized fibers for application to tissue engineering the meniscus. The goal of this study was to investigate the capability of MSCs to produce and organize ECM molecules compared to meniscal fibrochondrocytes (FCCs). Bovine FCCs and MSCs were encapsulated in an anatomically accurate collagen meniscus using monoculture and co-culture of each cell type. Each meniscus was mechanically anchored at the horns to mimic the physiological fixation by the meniscal entheses. Mechanical fixation generates a static mechanical boundary condition previously shown to induce formation of oriented fiber by FCCs. Samples were cultured for 4 weeks and then evaluated for biochemical composition and fiber development. MSCs increased the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and collagen production in both co-culture and monoculture groups compared to FCC monoculture. Collagen organization was greatest in the FCC monoculture group. While MSCs had increased matrix production, they lacked the fiber organization capabilities of FCCs. This study suggests that GAG production and fiber formation are linked. Co-culture can be used as a means of balancing the synthetic properties of MSCs and the matrix remodeling capabilities of FCCs for tissue engineering applications.

Keywords: Collagen; fiber; meniscus; mesenchymal stem cell; tissue engineering.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cattle
  • Cell Shape
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / cytology*
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Gels
  • Glycosaminoglycans / metabolism
  • Meniscus / physiology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Gels
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Collagen